Yes, the UCLA Bruins beat D-II Chaminade, 74-48, in the first game of the consolation bracket of Maui Jim Maui Invitational, but it was a close game at half. Overall, it was not pretty for much of the game. So, as UCLA fan you have to wish this was 1974 again. Not just to have Bill Walton back as a player, which would be better than an announcer, but to have no three-point line. In large part, UCLA losses this year have come from problems defending the three-point line. And, on the other side, the offense struggles to hit an outside shot, let alone a three.
Chaminade is a team so small that Tyger Campbell could start at forward. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but they are a D-II school. That said, they showed what UCLA is going to face all year: a collapsing defense. Teams are going to dare UCLA to beat them outside.
Against Chaminade, the Bruins could still score inside, but the book on UCLA is now written: Make UCLA beat you outside.
At the first TV timeout, UCLA was only up 6-4, 5 minutes in. For the first half, UCLA could not hit a three or outside shot. At the under 8 timeout, the Bruins were only up 16-11 despite holding Chaminade to 21% shooting. Not only was UCLA missing threes, they were airballing them. At the under 4, it was 20-16 and Chaminade had only upped their shooting percentage to 22%.
But the inability to hit an outside shot caused more problems. UCLA’s offense finished the first half with more turnovers (12) than field goals (10).
How bad was UCLA’s offense in the first half? UCLA held Chaminade to 19% shooting and 16 points and still only led by 6. Only Prince Ali was effective on offense on in the first half.
The second half started off just as ugly. With Jalen Hill throwing lazy passes and Chaminade getting two easy layups.
That changed because of two players. Jaime Jaquez Jr. gave UCLA a spark at both ends of the floor. His energy keyed some fast breaks and he found ways to score. The other key was David Singleton, who finally hit two threes and allowed UCLA to open a double digit lead. More importantly, it seemed to open other opportunities.
UCLA blew out the undermanned Silverswords in the second half as they wore out and the Bruins were too much physically. But there are still worries on how UCLA is going to score despite a 74-48 win.
- Player of the game Jamie Jaquez. Jamie earned the second half start and delivered on both ends of the floor. He finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He led UCLA In both categories.
- Disappearing players. Jalen Hill was all-world against Hofstra then disappeared the last two games. Hill got the quick hook in the second half. Chris Smith was the leading scorer and looking like he was reaching his potential in the first three games. He was benched to start the second half. Tyger Campbell was the key to the offense and the first wins. Campbell was airballing shots tonight. All have disappeared or been awful at other times this season. UCLA needs more consistency from them.
- This team hustles and give its all. The effort on defense remains impressive. UCLA never gives up on a loose ball. This is not a “great” UCLA team, but it is one that gives their all. For that, they are fun to watch, even if the offense is more cringeworthy than a bad seventies horror movie at times.