Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bruin Rally Falls Short, Lose To West Virginia

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

After falling behind 17 points by halftime, the Bruins rallied strong but fall shot as they bowed to the West Virginia Mountaineers, 60-56, before 12,035 at Pauley Pavilion.

In the first half, the Bruins had problems with the Mountaineer's 1-3-1 defensive zone especially when West Virginia began extending their zone out and began trapping the Bruins on the perimeter.

UCLA (15-4, 5-2) began settling for 3-point shots attempts instead of penetrating into the zone, and worst, the Bruins were not hitting their outside shots.

The Bruins shot a miserable 1-10 on 3-pointers in the first half. In addition, they shot only 28% as they fell behind 39-22 by the end of the half.

"I felt we were too passive against their zone" Howland said, "we didn't attack it".

Howland's plan was to attack the 1-3-1 zone pressure with Jordan Farmar playing the high post. The Bruins were to attack the zone and get the ball to Farmar in the middle who would then create scoring opportunities in the soft belly of the zone.

However the Bruin players, including Farmar, looked rather uncomfortable in the offensive set especially considering it was the first time the Bruins ever used the offense.

Subsequently, the Bruins played tentatively against the zone and were unable to get the ball to Farmar consistently, and when the ball was passed to Farmar he turned the ball over twice himself.

For West Virginia (14-3), their cutting and passing offense was on display at Pauley. Their first six points of the game were by lay-ups created by back door cuts and screens.

The Bruins held 6'11 Kevin Pittsnogle to only 4 points in the first half and eight for the game; however West Virginia's Mike Gansey stepped forward for his team on both ends of the court.

Gansey, a tough senior forward, shot 7-8 from the field and 3-3 from beyond the arc and finished with 24 points.

On the defensive end, Gansey had 4 steals, none more important than a steal he made on Jordan Farmar with 7 seconds left in the game and the Bruins down by only three. He was then fouled by Farmar; and Gansey made one of two free throws for the final margin.

Moreover, Gansey outplayed the Bruin's sophomore guard Arron Afflalo - holding Afflalo to only 1-9 shooting for only 4 points in the game. Afflalo also was only 0-6 on 3-pointers; he had entered the game shooting 51% from the field.

Michael Roll had a tough day as well. He was 0-7 from the field, even though he had numerous open looks from the perimeter, but the freshman just could not put one down as he also finished 0-6 from beyond the arc.

Leading the Bruins again in rebounding with 13 was Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The freshman from Cameroon also had 4 points but his effectiveness was somewhat limited by the 3 fouls he picked up in the first 8 minutes of the game.

Center Ryan Hollins came off the bench and played spectacularly. In 30 minutes of play he scored 11 points and had 8 rebounds. He also had two put back dunks on rebounds during the Bruin rally.

In the second half, the Bruins began attacking the West Virginia zone more aggressively and also stepped up their defense - preventing the Mountaineers from getting the easy back door lay-ups they were getting in the first half.

The Bruins held West Virginia without a field goal for nine minutes from the fourteen minute mark of the second half and cutting a 19 point deficit to only 7 with five minutes left in the game.

Farmar led the offensive charge scoring 14 in the second half. He finished with 22 points for the game but only had 3 assists and committed 5 turnovers.

The lead was sliced to just three points twice in the final minutes, but the Bruins missed two 3-point shots with a chance to tie the game. They would not get any closer.

For the game, the Bruins shot only 35% from the field, while West Virginia shot 45%.

The Bruins should be commended for their comeback effort. "This was a good learning experience for our young team", Howland said.

West Virginia is a solid veteran team which made the Elite Eight in last year's tournament. The young Bruins will certainly learn from the pressure and intensity they faced today against the Mountaineers.

UCLA will try to re-group over the weekend. "The pressure we faced today, Howland said, "will help us on our road games in the coming weeks".

The Bruins travel to the Oregon schools next week for always tough road games against the Ducks and Beavers.


(photo credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles)


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