Friday, November 25, 2005

Escape from New York: UCLA edges Drexel

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Hollywood director John Carpenter would have been inspired by UCLA's win today to write another sequel to his cult classic, "Esacpe from New York".

Trailing by two points to Drexel with less than 8 seconds left in the game, UCLA (4-1) was bailed-out with not one but two shooting fouls to pull out a win 57-56 in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament.

Sophomore Arron Afflalo pulled up from behind the 3-point arc and was fouled on his shot with less than 8 seconds left on the game clock. Drexel Coach "Bruiser" Flint kicked and grumbled but Afflalo was clearly hit across the wrist. Afflalo proceeded to hit two of three free throws to tie the score with just over 6 seconds left in the game. Bail-out #1.

After an ensuing UCLA timeout, the Bruins pressured Drexel into throwing the ball away on the inbounds pass for a quick turnover. Then sophomore leader Jordan Farmar promptly drove the ball into the lane and was fouled by Drexel with 0.8 seconds left on the clock. Bail-out #2.

Farmar took a deep breath before his first of two free throws knowing either free throw would win the game - he promptly shot an air ball missing the rim by 2 feet. Farmar and his teammates all let out a huge laugh which was probably a good thing as the humor of missing the first shot so badly seemed to relax Farmar for his second foul shot.

He calmly made the second free throw to seal the win.

"I had seen it happen before but I never thought it would happen to me," Farmar said, "I had to laugh, calm down and knock down the second and get out of here with a win."

In the first half, senior forward Cedric Bozeman kept the Bruins in the game with his calm play and shooting and sophomore Lorenzo Mata played solidly in the post.

Bozeman finished with 10 points on 5-6 shooting while Mata, who started the 2nd half at center, finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds.

Howland played Mata more in this game due to the ineffectiveness of his two 7-foot senior centers, Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey.

Nonetheless, Howland was impressed with Mata's hustle and effort; "we will play those players who play hard in practice", Howland said, suggesting Mata may see more minutes in coming games due to his work ethic in practices.

UCLA led at the half 30-26 mainly due to the poor shooting of Drexel. Drexel's Dominick Mejia who scored 25 against Duke finished with only 2 points in this game.

Drexel opened the second half with the first six points and opened up a seven point lead as the Dragons began to take advantage of UCLA's soft interior.

The game had humiliating D-E-F-E-A-T written all over it for UCLA - even though Drexel played Duke tough in the semifinal game the Dragons still had not recorded a win against a ranked team since 1998.

Jordan Farmar played perhaps the worst game of his UCLA career, up until his final second game-winning free throw, finishing with only 6 points on 1-10 shooting and 4 turnovers.

Arron Afflalo shot only 1-4 in the first half before he got a hot hand and brought the UCLA team back single handedly by scoring 11 points down the stretch cutting the deficit to two points.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played poorly in the first half but came alive in the second with key rebounds as well as a scramble for a key loose ball which led to Afflalo's game tying foul shots.

The Bruins did their best impression of Snake Plissken tonight. Kurt Russell would have been proud.

Post Game Notes: The Bruins fly back to Westwood tomorrow morning to relax the rest of the weekend at home. They play Albany next Tuesday (Nov.29) at Pauley.



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