Could things really get any worse for the UCLA Bruins at this point in the season? The answer to that question was an unequivocal yes! A loss to the 5-18 (0-11) UC Berkeley Golden Bears would definitely fall under the “things have gotten worse” category. As a matter of fact, a loss to the Golden Bears would have probably caused the handful of Bruin faithful still following this team to officially sign-off for the year.
The consensus from those calling the game was that the Bruins’ state of mind coming off the Utah debacle would be evident during the first five minutes. Well, at the first media timeout at the 15:37 mark, the UCLA Bruins looked punch drunk from the Utah game. They were 0 for 9 from the field and 0 for 4 from behind the arc and down 7-0 to UC Berkeley.
The first unit was so bad that Murry Bartow did a wholesale five-for-five substitution at the 16:53 mark as he took out the entire starting five.
The lineup change and Jules Bernard’s runner in the lane at the 14:57 mark finally got UCLA on the board. Luckily for the Bruins, the Bears went on a drought of over five minutes and could not run away and hide early.
Heading into the second media timeout, both teams were playing the kind of basketball that you would expect when an 0-11 team faces a 5-6 team. UCLA was shooting 20% and UC Berkeley was shooting a sizzling 27% and had a 13-7 lead at the 10:19 mark.
Coming out of the media timeout, the Bears shot an airball and, then, Bernard returned the favor on the Bruins’ next possession and shot one too. The basketball being played by both teams was close to unwatchable at this point.
UCLA was finally able to put together a run, a 9-0 run to be exact, with a Jalen Hill three-point play pulling the Bruins within one of UC Berkeley, 20-19 at the 5:59 mark of the first half.
UCLA continued to struggle to score and went over four minutes without a field goal towards the end of the half. Once again, the Bears didn’t exactly light things up, but they were able to head into the half up 34-25.
The Bruins shot 28% from the field in the first half and 14% from behind the arc. They went into the half with a staggering 13 turnovers to 8 made baskets.
The half started out in typical UCLA fashion, a turnover, and then a technical foul on Hill was called when he shoved Darius McNeil after McNeil fouled Hill under the basket. The technical FT’s gave UC Berkeley their first two points of the half.
The Bruins were able to get going and went on a 6-0 run heading into the first media timeout and they were only down, 36-31.
The Bears responded to UCLA’s run with Connor Vanover hitting a jumper and two FT’s to extend the Berkeley lead to 40-31.
Then, UCLA’s David Singleton went crazy hitting three three-pointers within two minutes, with his last one pulling UCLA within one 42-43 and prompting the Bears to call a timeout at the 12:18 mark. The Bruins continued to score out of the timeout and took their first lead 44-43 on Chris Smith’s elbow jumper.
Both teams started playing some better basketball and, for UCLA, it coincided with Jaylen Hands sitting on the bench. The lineup of Kris Wilkes, Singleton, Moses Brown, Bernard and Smith were responsible for the best basketball of the night for the Bruins.
UC Berkeley did not go away as Grant Anticevich hit back-to-back elbow jumpers over the outstretched hands of Brown both times to put the Bears up 57-55 with 3:49 remaining in the game.
Bartow called a TO at the 1:47 mark and, out of the timeout, Singleton hit a three-pointer to pull the Bruins to within a point, 59-58. After UCLA got a stop on the defensive end, Wilkes followed up Singleton’s three with a three of his own to put the Bruins up 61-59 with a 1:15 left. UC Berkeley hit two FT’s to tie up the game. On UCLA’s next possession, Wilkes head-faked, stepped sideways and hit another three-point shot to put the Bruins up 64-61 with 46 seconds left.
But it wasn’t over yet.
UC Berkeley’s Matt Bradley hit a corner three with 27 seconds left to tie things up, 64-64. UCLA didn’t have a timeout and a poorly executed last possession resulted in a forced shot by Wilkes and the game went to overtime.
Both teams struggled to score in overtime to start. The highlight of the overtime came when Smith battled on the offensive end, got his own rebound and put it back up to put UCLA up, 67-64. Two free throws by Hands put the Bruins up, 69-64, before Cal’s Justice Sueing hit a corner three to close the lead to two. Hands was fouled again on UCLA’s next possession and he hit both, putting UCLA up by four, 71-67 with 1:08 remaining and basically put the game away and the Bruins walked out of Haas Pavilion with a 75-67 victory.
Next up for the Bruins is a trip to Maples Pavilion Saturday evening to face the Stanford Cardinal. The game is slated to tip-off at 7:00 pm PT.
UCLA Player Grades
Kris Wilkes: B+
Once again, he had a second half scoring barrage. He needs to do it in the first half as well. With that said, his 16 second half points were the main reason the Bruins escaped with a win.
Jaylen Hands: C+
Hands made some big FT’s in OT, but was on the bench when the Bruins played their best ball.
Jalen Hill: C
Hill sure has a motor that does not stop. His skill set just does not currently match his effort and that’s OK. He has time to develop. Let’s hope the next coaching staff can excel in this area. Hill’s minutes were also limited tonight.
Prince Ali: F
Ali did not make the trip to Berkeley. Wait, yes he did. We just didn’t see much of him during the game, and rightly so. His minutes were limited with the play of Bernard and his minutes should continue to be limited even more moving forward.
Cody Riley: D
There’s not much to talk about for Riley tonight. Riley was limited to 13 minutes and just was not much of a factor.
Moses Brown: F
He simply cannot be the liability that he is at the FT line. He did have 11 rebounds.
Chris Smith: C+
His basket in OT sealed the win for the Bruins. I thought Smith was active and played well.
David Singleton: A
Singleton was the main reason UCLA was even in the game, as his second half performance helped keep the Bruins in the game.
Jules Bernard: B
Bernard plays hard and he hit a big and-one at the 9:56 mark of the second half. Bernard is just one of those guys that is always aggressive and I like that.
Alex Olesinski: INC