Saturday, April 20

Buzzer beater clinches win over Washington for UCLA men’s basketball


Abdul-Hamid seals victory against Huskies after teams battle for lead in second half

Redshirt junior guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid is embraced by his teammates after scoring the game-winning shot against Washington Thursday night in Pauley Pavilion. In the 62-61 UCLA win, Abdul-Hamid came off the bench to add four points.

Redshirt junior guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid is embraced by his teammates after scoring the game-winning shot against Washington Thursday night in Pauley Pavilion. In the 62-61 UCLA win, Abdul-Hamid came off the bench to add four points. Tiffany Cheng


It had happened before, when the stakes weren’t quite as high and the game didn’t mean as much.

With the clock winding down and the men’s team in need of a closer, Mustafa Abdul-Hamid filled the role again, sinking a 19-foot game-winner, giving the Bruins a 62-61 victory over Washington (12-6, 3-4 Pac-10) on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion.

Abdul-Hamid, a former walk-on who made the game-winning shot at the buzzer in UCLA’s (8-10, 3-3) first exhibition game of the season against Concordia, was soon mobbed by his teammates at half-court, with the 6,508 fans on their feet celebrating in deafening noise.

“You’re playing on instinct at that point,” said Abdul-Hamid, who finished with four points in 13 minutes. “I’m glad it worked out for the team.”

After Washington’s Venoy Overton made a layup to put the Huskies ahead by one with 3.6 seconds remaining, senior guard Michael Roll inbounded the ball and passed it to Abdul-Hamid who was at half-court. Abdul-Hamid took the ball, drove to the top of the key and got Overton in the air with a pump-fake before sinking the game-winner.

Following the game, Abdul-Hamid attributed his decision to pump-fake to an interview he saw with Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe Bryant was talking about the game-winner he made, and he said as an offensive player, you know the clock (and) the defense doesn’t because they’re into the ball,” Abdul-Hamid said. “So I knew I had a little time. Otherwise it would have been a forced shot.”

Coach Ben Howland said he could not have been happier for any other player to hit a game-winning shot.

“He’s always ready,” Howland said. “Even though his name hasn’t been called that much this year he got the opportunity and took advantage of it.”

The thrilling finish capped a game in which the Bruins showed vast improvement from last week’s humiliating loss to USC. Four Bruins scored in double figures, led by freshman forward Reeves Nelson’s 16 points off the bench. Sophomore guard Malcolm Lee scored 13 points, senior forward Nikola Dragovic had 11 points, and freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt added 10 points. The Bruins ended the night shooting 53.8 percent (21-of-39) from the field.

At halftime, the game looked like it would be a high-scoring game, with UCLA shooting 54.5 percent (12-of-22) and Washington 58.3 percent (14-of-24).

However, the UCLA zone defense that was ineffective against USC put the clamps on Washington in the second half, limiting the Huskies to a 29.6 percent (8-of-27) shooting percentage and holding them to over five minutes without scoring in the second half, turning a three-point Washington lead into a three-point UCLA advantage.

“We did a good job staying with our zone, and bottom line is they got a little more tentative in the second half,” Howland said.

Senior forward Quincy Pondexter led the Huskies with 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting, while sophomore point guard Isaiah Thomas added 11 points.

“Pondexter’s a really special player,” Howland said. “I told our players he’s an NBA player, no question.”

Roll gave the Bruins a one-point lead with with two free throws at eight seconds left.

After the second made free throw, Howland inserted Abdul-Hamid into the game for Dragovic for defensive purposes, setting the stage for the dramatic scene at the end of the game.

“You do it so many times, it becomes instinct, and you’re not thinking out there,” Abdul-Hamid said. “Kind of flashbacks to high school for me. When the clock is like that, you can’t go wrong, you can’t pass it, and so you got to let it go.

“Just believe.”

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