Friday, March 24, 2006

Team of Destiny, UCLA Stuns Gonzaga

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

For thirty-seven excruciating minutes, the UCLA Bruins were outplayed in most every facet of the game by Gonzaga, and appeared to be a team destined to lose – but instead, they became a team of destiny.

UCLA (30-6) went on an 11-0 run in the final three minutes to rally and defeat Gonzaga, 73-71, in a game whose improbable finish will go down as one of the most remarkable in Bruin basketball history.

With fifteen seconds remaining in the game and UCLA down by one point, 71-70, the Zags inbounded the ball to Adam Morrison who was trapped by two Bruin defenders.

In desperation, Morrison passed the ball cross-court to J.P. Batista at the opposite sideline. He was immediately doubled by UCLA’s Cedric Bozeman and Jordan Farmar.

Batista had an opportunity to pass the ball down to point-guard Derek Raivio at the baseline, but under the intense pressure from the double-team he turned to pass the ball up-court instead.

Bozeman saw his chance and knocked the ball out of Batista’s hands. Farmar swooped up the loose ball and found Luc Richard Mbah a Moute gliding towards the basket.

Mbah a Moute caught the ball high up in the air and softly put in a lay-up to put the Bruins ahead for the very first time of the game, 72-71.

"We were trying to apply extreme pressure," Farmar said. "I saw Luc was coming under the basket. Raivio was also near there so I had to put it up a little higher. Thank God Luc is 6-7 with a seven-foot wingspan."

Gonzaga quickly inbounded the ball to Derek Raivio. He hastily dribbled up-court but just as he reached past half-court he was caught from behind by a lunging Mbah a Moute who grabbed the ball from him while sprawled on the floor.

Mbah a Moute was tied up by Gonzaga but UCLA gained possession since the alternating possession arrow pointed towards them.

Arron Afflalo received the inbound pass and was immediately fouled by Gonzaga’s Jeremy Pargo with 2.8 seconds remaining. Afflalo stepped up to the line and missed the first foul shot but made the second to give the Bruins their final margin of victory 73-71.

Gonzaga did have one last shot at the game. David Pendergraft made a length of the court pass to Batista who caught the ball 18 feet from the basket but missed it wide right while he was under duress by Mbah a Moute and Farmar as time ran out.

With the victory UCLA advances into the round of the Elite Eight.

Yet, reaching the Elite Eight did not appear to be a realistic proposition for the Bruins considering how they played in the first half.

Instead of aggressively attacking the Gonzaga zone defense, UCLA began the game settling for too many long-range jumpers. To make matters worse, they were missing them.

UCLA did not make their first field goal until Arron Afflalo scored on an acrobatic shot in the key after 8:43 into the game. They ended up missing their first eight shot attempts of the game.

Ironically, the Bruins were able to stay with the Zags in the first half due to their stellar foul-shooing. The team shot 9 of 10 from the foul line in the half.

Gonzaga extended its lead to 17 points in the first half, but the Bruins were able to cut the deficit to 13 by half-time.

UCLA coach Ben Howland made adjustments in the locker room at the half. He wanted his players to increase the intensity and pressure on defense, and to attack the zone more aggressively inside.

“We were taking too many outside shots in the first half.” Howland said, “We wanted to get the ball inside more in the second half.”

UCLA came out in the second half with renewed vigor and made numerous runs to cut the Zag’s lead to single digits, but the Zags always had an answer and would push the margin back up to a double-digit lead.

Then something happened to the Zags in the final three minutes of the game – it appeared they were playing not to lose. They began to lose their intensity just as the Bruins were beginning to ramp up their intensity level.

Sophomores Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar each scored a team-high 15 points as both shot 5 of 13 from the field.

Afflalo combined with Cedric Bozeman to guard Morrison, although he was still able to score a game-high 24 points, it was a rather "quiet" 24 point performance by Morrison.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 14 points and hauled down 10 rebounds including the key steal down the stretch.

Ryan Hollins was huge down the stretch when the Bruins started to look in the low-post. He finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds including two key free throws to help UCLA pull close at the end.

Freshman Darren Collison did not play well in the first half, but came back to help spark the Bruin offense in the second half. He finished with 5 points all in the second half.

UCLA will face the No.1 seed Memphis Tigers in the Elite Eight round of the Oakland Regional on Saturday.



At Mar 24, 2006, 5:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do a spectacular job with this blog. I've enjoyed it all season.


At Mar 24, 2006, 6:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your game summaries are top notch. I noticed one thing, however: it was Jordan Farmar not Cedric Bozeman who actually knocked the ball out of Batista's hands.

At Mar 24, 2006, 8:13:00 AM, Blogger BBR said...

Thanks for the comments. A terrific game!

I'm pretty certain it was Cedric who put his bear paw initially to knock the ball away, and then Jordan nabbed the ball and threw that pass to Luc, which by the way, I thought was heading for the 5th row of the seats. Luc has awesome hops and hands.

Lastly, during a post game interview Ced corrected Jim Hill, when Hill kept referring to Jordan making the steal, that he actually had tipped the ball.

Maybe someone else can comment and cast the deciding vote.

Still can't believe what happened last night! UCLA Basketball is back!

At Mar 24, 2006, 3:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it was UCLA's most exciting non-national-championship game in the past 20 years!

This "who knocked the ball loose" question is getting interesting! I was just at and saw a clip where Jordan says that "Ced" knocked the ball loose. Well, it is hard to argue that point! However...I watched the steal sequence 10+ times last night on my DVR and it seemed (to me) that Jordan knocked it out with his left hand. I just need to know whether or not I'm going crazy or did the last second "blur" affect the players' view of who did what?

At Mar 24, 2006, 4:40:00 PM, Blogger -flom-moxed- said...

I think bozeman tipped it and farmar grabbed it from the other side

At Mar 24, 2006, 4:41:00 PM, Blogger -flom-moxed- said...

Bozeman knocked it loose, Farmar grabbed the ball from the other side for the steal


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