Just one night removed from the worst loss of his tenure at UCLA, coach Ben Howland could not have asked for anything more from his players against the No. 12 team in the country in the second night of the 76 Classic.

Except perhaps for a victory.

With just eight seconds left in the game, sophomore point guard Jerime Anderson hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game and ignite the pro-UCLA crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center.

However, on the ensuing possession, Butler’s sophomore forward Gordon Hayward drove the length of the court and forced a shooting foul with a virtually empty clock. He made both free throws and UCLA was dealt a 69-67 defeat, its second heart-breaking loss in as many nights.

This one was painful for different reasons, though.

“It’s just disappointing to have a great effort like that and come up on the short end,” Howland said. “But I thought we made a step in the right direction.”

On Thursday night, UCLA was never close to Portland, which beat the Bruins by 27 and will go on to play in the tournament’s final on Sunday.

This time around, UCLA showed the intensity it was missing in the first round and kept it close until the final buzzer, but could not pull out the win.

“I think if we continue to work this hard and play this hard, we’re going to be a much-improved team,” Howland said.

Even with his near-heroics putting the Bruins within a moment of forcing overtime, Anderson arrived at the post-game press conference shaking his head.

“We don’t really take moral victories out of losses,” he said. “We want to win games, and we lost tonight.”

Butler (4-1), which had lost to No. 22 Minnesota the night before, did not trail the entire game, but would let UCLA (2-3) back into contention with several missed assignments on defense.

“When you play against a “¦ championship program that has not had their best night the night before, you know what you’re getting,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said.

The referees called an extremely tight game, whistling 20 fouls on Butler and 28 on UCLA.

After appearing to swat away a Butler lay-up to the crowd’s delight in the second half, sophomore forward Drew Gordon was instead called for his fifth and final foul. The Bruins were left without their leading scorer for the final six minutes of the game.

With all the foul calls, both teams spent much of the game at the free-throw line, but the Bulldogs were the ones to capitalize. The Bruins were just 10 of 17 on the night, which is almost identical to their season average of 57 percent.

“The free-throw shooting obviously is a problem,” Howland said. “We’re better than that.”

Howland praised the quality play of his reserves, who were forced to step up when the starters fell into foul trouble. Freshmen forwards Brendan Lane and Reeves Nelson totaled a combined 15 points in just 26 minutes.

“They really showed a lot of heart, even when we fell down by the big number in the first half,” Howland said.

The Bruins were led with 14 points from junior forward Nikola Dragovic, who had his best shooting night of the season, hitting a couple key shots down the stretch including four free throws in the last four minutes.

UCLA will take on Long Beach State in the tournament’s seventh place game Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Long Beach lost a close game of its own to No. 19 Clemson on Friday night.

The Bruins know it will take an equally inspired effort to win the final game of the weekend against the 49ers, who are favored to win the Big West Conference according to a media poll.

“The intensity, just like tonight, we need to come out and bring it from the tip,” senior guard Michael Roll said. “I was very happy with the team on that.”