UCLA Survives and Advances. Barely.

Barack Obama missed this one.

But not by much. The president was one of many who made Virginia Commonwealth a popular upset pick, but UCLA’s defense held — particularly on a dramatic final play — and the Bruins advance, winning 65-64.

There were flashes of the defense that led UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours, and it was there on the game’s final play. Down one with 11 seconds remaining, VCU star Eric Maynor brought the ball up court, came off a pick where UCLA’s Josh Shipp did a great job cutting off his path to the basket, then Darren Collison recovered. Maynor got past the free throw line, gave a pump fake that Collison didn’t buy, then Maynor shot a contested jumper over Collison.

It missed, just grazing the front of the rim. UCLA fans everywhere exhaled.

UCLA’s defense was great out of the gate — Maynor (who finished with a game-high 21 points) had just four shots in the first half. With 15 minutes left in the game, VCU was shooting just 34 %.

UCLA had built up double digit leads a couple times but they never were able to completely pull away (at the same time VCU was at 34%, UCLA was at just 39%). It took UCLA six minutes to score a basket in the second half, when the Bruins 10 point halftime lead was cut in half.

At that point it was the senior Shipp who stepped up and carried UCLA through the middle of the second half. He finished with a team-high 16 point. For the game, UCLA’s starters gave provided balanced scoring, with each in scoring in double digits.

Like they have all seasons, the Bruins survived their ups and downs and got the win when they needed it. But if they have too many ups and downs against a good Villanova team — basically playing on its home court in Philadelphia — there will be no more wins this season.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us