Bru­ins re­cover from slow start

They pick it up from be­hind the arc and do enough to turn back the 49ers’ chal­lenge.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - BY BLAKE RICHARD­SON

UCLA 91 LONG BEACH ST. 80

Prince Ali walked off the court slowly, hands on his hips and eyes on the hard­wood floor. UCLA’s play­ers dragged their feet off the court af­ter a win they eked out de­spite a late run by Long Beach State.

Be­hind a strong sec­ond half, UCLA de­feated Long Beach State 91-80 at Pauley Pavil­ion on Fri­day night, im­prov­ing to 2-0. Moses Brown led the Bru­ins with 17 points and 10 re­bounds, while Kris Wilkes added 17. Deishuan Booker scored a game-high 31 for the 49ers.

“We had some guys not de­fend in the way we’re ca­pa­ble of de­fend­ing in to­day’s game. And it al­most hurt us,” UCLA coach Steve Al­ford said.

Over the last two sea­sons, UCLA has es­tab­lished pris­tine three-point shoot­ing. The Bru­ins’ 310 three­p­oint­ers last sea­son marked the sec­ond most in pro­gram his­tory, af­ter set­ting the record (354) the year be­fore.

But 10 min­utes into the bat­tle against Long Beach State, UCLA trailed by five, shoot­ing 37.5% from the field and one for seven from three.

UCLA’s de­fense kept all but one Long Beach State player from mak­ing more than one bas­ket in the first 12 min­utes. That player, se­nior guard Booker, scored 14 points in less than 10 min­utes to give the 49ers an early lead and tal­lied 19 by the end of the half.

With 41⁄2 min­utes left, Jaylen Hands bolted to the top of the arc. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing the pass from Wilkes he sent the ball soar­ing, his first at­tempt at a three-point shot all half. It swished to bring the Bru­ins within two.

Wilkes added a layup sev­eral sec­onds later, putting UCLA ahead af­ter Long Beach State led for more than 10 min­utes.

As the sec­onds ticked away, the first-half buzzer

loom­ing, Hands drib­bled up to the arc and slipped to the right. He re­leased the three just be­fore the buzzer sounded, giv­ing UCLA a 45-41 lead.

Hands sank both of his at­tempts but the rest of the Bru­ins shot four for 14 from three in the half. Af­ter com­bin­ing for 45 points in UCLA’s sea­son-open­ing win over Pur­due Fort Wayne, Hands and Wilkes each scored 11 points in the first half against Long Beach State.

In the first few min­utes of the sec­ond half, Long Beach State erased the Bru­ins’ lead with a three by Bryan Al­berts, then a layup by Booker. The 49ers re­claimed the lead when Booker sank a three as he fell to the floor.

Dunks from Wilkes and Brown re­vi­tal­ized a UCLA of­fense that im­proved in the paint dur­ing the sec­ond half. Af­ter earn­ing only two of­fen­sive re­bounds in the first half, the Bru­ins pulled down seven in the first 10 min­utes, dou­bling their sec­ond-chance points.

David Sin­gle­ton had made only one bas­ket the whole game, but nearly nine min­utes into the sec­ond half, he flashed a fake run to the left be­hind the arc that sent his de­fender tum­bling to the floor. He drib­bled a few steps closer and dumped the ball to Chris Smith, who dished it back to a wide-open Sin­gle­ton. He hit the three, giv­ing UCLA a four-point lead.

From there, the Bru­ins clung to a nar­row lead that Brown ex­tended with a dunk. A few min­utes later, Sin­gle­ton swished an­other open three from the same spot, giv­ing UCLA an eight-point lead.

The Bru­ins main­tained a com­fort­able lead un­til Jor­dan Roberts plucked the ball from Jalen Hill’s hands and scored a layup, prompt­ing UCLA to call a time­out with the lead cut to five with three min­utes left. Wilkes com­mit­ted a turnover once play re­sumed.

“It was our vets late in the game who were not tak­ing care of the bas­ket­ball,” Al­ford said. “So I think they got to look at tape.”

Brown re­vi­tal­ized the Bru­ins with a rim-rat­tling dunk, but it was the Bru­ins’ only score in a three-minute, 14-2 run by the 49ers. But the Bru­ins re­sponded with two min­utes to play by draw­ing fouls and sink­ing free throws while sti­fling the 49ers.

The Bru­ins fin­ished eight of 23 from be­yond the arc and 19 of 30 from the line. That was not enough to bring about the Bru­ins’ down­fall be­cause of a team ef­fort that cul­mi­nated in re­lief, over cel­e­bra­tion, once the fi­nal buzzer sounded.

Danny Moloshok As­so­ci­ated Press

KRIS WILKES scores 17 points to help lift the Bru­ins past Jor­dan Roberts and Long Beach State in their sec­ond game of the sea­son.

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