Tuesday, March 26

UCLA basketball defeats CSUN 102-87 with strong second half

Senior guard Isaac Hamilton shot 9-of-14 Sunday night to lead UCLA men's basketball in scoring with 22 points. (Ken Shin/Daily Bruin)

Senior guard Isaac Hamilton shot 9-of-14 Sunday night to lead UCLA men's basketball in scoring with 22 points. (Ken Shin/Daily Bruin)

This post was updated Nov. 13 at 11:15 p.m.

UCLA men’s basketball (2-0) exploded for 62 points in the second half Sunday night to defeat Cal State Northridge (1-1) 102-87.

The dominant second-half effort meant that, for the second straight game to open the season, UCLA hit 100 points, a mark the team never reached last year.

UCLA wasn’t as efficient from beyond the arc as it was Friday night, making just five of 16 3-pointers, but seven Bruins scored in double figures.

“Having the offensive firepower across the board, we have so many guys that can get it done offensively,” said junior center Thomas Welsh. “We do have incredible guards, but they’re not always going to be able to make 3s and we know that they’re still going to be able to get the ball to the basket.”

Senior guards Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford led the scoring with 22 and 20 points, respectively.

Hamilton attributed the pair’s success to the work of freshman guard Lonzo Ball and sophomore guard Aaron Holiday running the offense.

[In-depth: Family, dedication at the heart of Lonzo Ball’s game]

“That gives Bryce and I much freedom to just mix up our games – shooting it, off the dribble,” Hamilton said. “And the way (the Matadors) played us today, they kind of pressured us, so a lot of backdoors were open. And we tried to make that adjustment second half.”

After a shaky first half during which they turned the ball over 11 times and shot 13-of-33, the Bruins headed into halftime down 42-40.

They put the pressure on immediately in the second period, though, with freshman point guard Lonzo Ball draining a 3 on the first possession and going coast-to-coast for a dunk on the next.

“How we started the first half, we wanted to rope-a-dope,” said coach Steve Alford. “How (Ball) started the second half, he was a heavyweight fighter ready to knock you out.”

The teams traded leads throughout the first five minutes of the second half, but the Bruins accelerated and built a double-digit lead by the 10-minute mark, thanks to an increased emphasis on attacking the basket against CSUN’s pressure-heavy defense.

“That was a big concern going into the second half: … Let’s move the ball a little bit and if we get an angle to drive it, let’s drive it,” Steve Alford said. “When you play teams that like to extend and press and deny and pressure, that means there’s no help in the gaps.”

Ball turned in another stat-sheet-stuffing effort, posting 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Fouls by both sides bogged down the pace of play throughout, with the two teams combining to shoot 62 free throws.

“It’s just what happens, it’s early in the season,” Steve Alford said. “Officials are getting back into it, players are getting back into it, coaches are getting back into it, so you naturally have a lot of fouls that are called and fouls that happen.”

Foul trouble limited Ball’s fellow freshman, power forward TJ Leaf, to just 18 minutes, in which he scored 12 points and added six rebounds.

With Leaf confined to the bench for long stretches, junior forward Gyorgy Goloman provided a spark off the bench, notching 12 points and eight boards on 5-of-7 shooting.

“He gave us a tremendous boost,” Steve Alford said. “He did an awful lot in 15 minutes of play, and that’s what we’ve been seeing out of him in practice. His development’s going to be key for us.”


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Senior Staff

Matt Cummings is a senior staff writer covering UCLA football and men's basketball. In the past, he has covered baseball, cross country, women's volleyball and men's tennis. He served as an assistant sports editor in 2015-2016. Follow him on Twitter @MattCummingsDB.

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