Greater than three hours earlier than tipoff of his season opener, Jaime Jaquez Jr. strolled into Pauley Pavilion in a throwback UCLA letterman’s jacket.
One other huge recreation was about to start out. Little sis was about to make her faculty debut.
Jaime greeted a number of followers earlier than taking a seat between his dad and mom six rows up close to midcourt, his mom sporting a shirt exhibiting each siblings with their final identify working down the center. Huge brother caught a T-shirt thrown into the group and watched intently as sister Gabriela checked into the ladies’s recreation early within the first quarter.
As quickly as Gabriela curled round a double display to catch an inbounds cross and hoist her first shot, swishing the three-pointer, Jaime rose to bathe her with applause. He was joined by teammates Mac Etienne, Will McClendon and David Singleton to observe the remainder of the primary half earlier than all of them departed to organize for his or her recreation.
As if he didn’t need to be upstaged, Jaime placed on his personal spectacular show to start out the eighth-ranked Bruins’ recreation in opposition to Sacramento State. He took a bounce cross in transition from Jaylen Clark for a two-handed dunk. He benefited from a gentle bounce on a jumper, the ball dropping by the online. He drove round a flat-footed defender for a layup.
UCLA’s first six factors belonged to Jaquez.
Exhibiting off his surgically repaired ankle and searching as spry as he ever has, Jaquez helped energy the Bruins to a 76-50 victory that additionally got here largely due to some across-the-board excellence from Clark.
Making all seven photographs, Clark scored a game-high 17 factors to go together with eight rebounds, seven steals, 4 assists and one block. He adopted one steal with a breakaway dunk and prevented a Hornets participant falling out of bounds from throwing the ball off him by amassing it.
“For us, he’s got to be an elite defensive player because we have a team where he has to fill that role,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin stated whereas noting that Clark additionally had 16 deflections to go along with his one slip-up of 5 turnovers. “We’re never going to play well defensively unless he’s all over the place. He just can do things other guys can’t.”
Jaquez added 14 factors on environment friendly seven-for-nine capturing to go together with seven rebounds, and Tyger Campbell had 14 factors on an array of floating jumpers to go together with two three-pointers.
Fittingly, Jaquez and Clark departed the sport along with three minutes left and obtained a loud ovation as they clasped fingers in entrance of the bench. Clark stated he was energized by his capacity to be a chosen stopper.
“I just like going up and taking people out of the game, and it creates easy offense for me,” Clark stated. “It just gets me going. My defense fuels my offense.”
UCLA has six gamers again from the crew that went to the Ultimate 4 two seasons in the past, however a lot of the curiosity Monday was in assessing the crew’s six true freshmen.
Followers needed to accept 5 newcomers. Heart Adem Bona was unable to play due to a one-game NCAA suspension relating to amateurism guidelines. He warmed up earlier than the sport and can make his faculty debut Friday night time in opposition to Lengthy Seashore State.
Amari Bailey was the recipient of one other distinctive cross from Clark in transition for a layup that represented his first faculty factors.
Shaking off some early struggles, particularly defensively, UCLA went on a 20-0 surge to make this a runaway much like the one which Gabriela Jaquez loved within the ladies’s recreation.
She completed with 10 factors, largely on the power of creating 5 of seven free throws, to go together with six rebounds and one help in 22 minutes throughout her crew’s 84-48 victory over Cal Poly.
The siblings noticed one another earlier within the day on the follow facility their groups share.
“I was like, ‘Let’s go!’ ” Gabriela stated, recalling a chorus she repeated when she noticed her brother once more in the midst of the doubleheader. “It’s really, really an amazing opportunity that we get to do this with the men’s basketball team.”
It may very well be the beginning of one thing particular for them each.