March Madness: UCLA defeats Northwestern, returns to Sweet 16

How Sweet it’s.

For the third time in as many seasons, UCLA is advancing to the NCAA match’s second week.

The Bruins made it to the Sweet 16 once more as a result of one other development endured Saturday on the Golden 1 Middle: The ultimate minutes continued to be profitable time.

Shaking off an enormous Northwestern rally through which the Wildcats erased a 13-point deficit, second-seeded UCLA held off the seventh-seeded Wildcats for a 68-63 victory within the second spherical of the NCAA match.

The Bruins’ celebration was muted due to one other late-season harm.

UCLA senior guard David Singleton, whose three-pointer had given his group a late six-point lead, was harm when he slipped with 20 seconds left. He needed to be helped off the court docket with 20 seconds left however returned and wiggled his fingers as he walked off the court docket to cheers from the gang.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 24 factors, Amari Bailey added 14 and Tyger Campbell had 12 for the Bruins, who pulled away after making all of the performs they wanted to within the closing minutes. Campbell hurled the ball into the air after the ultimate second ticked off the clock.

UCLA (31-5) will play the winner of the second-round sport between Gonzaga and Texas Christian in a regional semifinal on Thursday at T-Cell Enviornment in Las Vegas.

Boo Buie scored 18 factors, Matthew Nicholson had 17 and Chase Audige all 16 of his within the second half for Northwestern (22-12), which had its probabilities within the greatest sport at school historical past given an absence of basketball custom.

An extremely intense, back-and-forth sport was tilting in UCLA’s path after Singleton buried a three-pointer to push the Bruins right into a 62-56 lead with 1:45 left after an Adem Bona block had given their group the possession. Northwestern’s Brooks Barnhizer made two free throws to tug the Wildcats inside 62-58.

UCLA’s Tyger Campbell places up a shot in opposition to Northwestern within the first half Saturday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Occasions)

Northwestern acquired the ball again after Jaime Jaquez Jr. airballed a troublesome baseline jumper that sailed over the rim, however the Wildcats missed two consecutive pictures and UCLA’s Tyger Campbell grabbed the rebound with 42 seconds left. Campbell was ultimately fouled and made two free throws to increase the benefit to 64-58 earlier than Northwestern’s Boo Buie made a brief jumper with 23 seconds left.

The Wildcats fouled Singleton, who was in such ache he threw an arm round coach Tyler Lesher whereas down on the court docket. UCLA’s Dylan Andrews made each free throws with 20 seconds left earlier than Buie missed a driving layup, successfully ending the Wildcats’ chacnes.

A “U-C-L-A!” chant echoed inside the world after Andrews’ three-pointer from the wing pushed the Bruins right into a 51-45 lead and capped a 6-0 surge for his group. Simply because it had earlier within the second half, Northwestern rallied, coming inside 51-50 on a Boo Buie three-pointer.

It appeared like UCLA may be on the best way to a blowout when Bailey spun round Buie for a layup to offer the Bruins a 41-28 lead early within the second half.

However in an indication of issues to return, Jaquez airballed a three-pointer and the Northwestern followers let him hear it. The Wildcats then began discovering the offensive rhythm that had eluded them within the first half, occurring an 11-2 push to tug inside 43-39 and power UCLA coach Mick Cronin to name timeout as Singleton and Bona argued on their approach to the bench.

Bona threw down a dunk popping out of the timeout however instantly clutched the left shoulder he had harm throughout the Pac-12 match and departed. Northwestern shortly pulled right into a 45-45 tie when UCLA’s Kenneth Nwuba was known as for goaltending on a driving layup by Buie.

UCLA's Kenneth Nwuba battles for a loose ball against Northwestern's Ty Berry in the first half.

UCLA’s Kenneth Nwuba battles for a unfastened ball in opposition to Northwestern’s Ty Berry within the first half.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Occasions)

UCLA’s smothering protection did its job in serving to the Bruins take a 35-25 halftime lead, holding Northwestern’s veteran backcourt of Buie and Audige to 5 factors on a mixed one-of-eight taking pictures. Bailey and Dylan Andrews had been notably suffocating of their efforts on Buie, always denying him driving lanes whereas staying inside bad-breath distance.

The Bruins had significantly much less success stopping Nicholson, who made all 5 pictures on the best way to 10 factors after scoring on quite a lot of lobs and pick-and-roll performs. All three UCLA large males had been equally ineffective in stopping these simple baskets.

In his first look since strolling gingerly off the court docket throughout the Pac-12 match, Bona struggled within the early going aside from a dunk off a pleasant cross from Bailey. Bona was known as for 2 fouls in a 24-second span and got here out, taking part in solely 4 minutes within the first half.

Nwuba continued his shocking stint because the Bruins’ finest large man, blocking a shot that triggered a fastbreak ending in a Jaquez dunk. Jaquez and Bailey had been their group’s major protagonists on offense, combining for 25 factors by the sport’s midpoints.

UCLA’s full-court press was additionally efficient in pockets, serving to the Bruins take an 11-3 lead on factors off turnovers by halftime. It additionally allowed them to get out on the fastbreak as a lot as attainable to maximise their large benefit in athleticism. At halftime, all 13 of the sport’s fastbreak factors belonged to the Bruins.

After UCLA’s first-round victory, Cronin joked that his sister, Kelly, could be rooting for Northwestern as a result of she was an alumna of the Large Ten college. Seeing the spot, Kelly Cronin’s college students at Summit Nation Day Excessive in Cincinnati, the place she’s the principal, posted pro-Northwestern indicators in her workplace, however simply to keep away from any confusion she wore a UCLA T-shirt.

“She would never root against me,” Mick Cronin mentioned.

It could have been a futile effort anyway.