Tyrone Nash was lounging at home when he received a last-minute phone call to join the team.
“I was like, ‘Yeah definitely, I’ll come support, just don’t tell Notre Dame,’” said the former forward of the Fighting Irish. “But the guys were great and they welcomed me, so it made it easy.”
Nash was never a Bruin, but he never missed a shot wearing blue and gold.
The forward went 8-of-8 from the field and finished with 17 points, lifting No. 4 seed Sons of Westwood – a UCLA men’s basketball alumni team – to a 90-65 victory over No. 13 seed We Are D3 in the first round of The Basketball Tournament on Saturday night.
For the first three quarters, We Are D3 kept itself within striking distance of pulling an upset. It held a 44-38 lead at halftime and trailed by just 5 after the third quarter.
“I was really nervous coming into (the game),” said Sons of Westwood coach Ryan “Moose” Bailey about the challenge of putting together players who have only practiced for a few days together.
The Sons of Westwood, however, outscored We Are D3 26-6 in the final frame, highlighted by former UCLA guard Isaac Hamilton’s defensive deflection – which led to his fourth triple of the night.
Former UCLA center Thomas Welsh and rising redshirt junior forward Alex Olesinski were in the crowd among the Den and other UCLA fans.
“I expected some people to be here, but not this many people,” said recently graduated forward GG Goloman, who finished the game with 7 points and five rebounds. “It means a lot that they’re here to support us.“
Bailey’s squad came out of the gates sluggish, giving up four 3s in the first five minutes of the game, trailing 21-12 with about four minutes left in the first period.
“This team is just getting to know each other, so they took the first half to feel each other out,” Bailey said. “It was more one-on-one stuff in the first half, but they started working together in the second half and things really came together.”
The Sons of Westwood were outrebounded by seven in the first half, but made up ground and ended up outrebounding We Are D3 by three.
Five players, including Nash, registered double-figure performances for the Sons of Westwood. Hamilton logged a team-high 21 points, while former UCLA guards Jordan Adams and Malcolm Lee made 15 and 14, respectively. Khalif Wyatt, a former Temple guard, also finished with 10 points.
“They’re all scorers by nature, but they know how to make the extra pass,” Bailey said. “We played on one side in the first half. … But once we got the ball moving side to side … it was a huge turnaround.”
Former UCLA forward and 14-year NBA veteran Matt Barnes did not play due to a recent injury from playing in the American Flag Football League. Former UCLA center Lorenzo Mata-Real was absent as well due to an injury while playing on the Mexican national team.
The Sons of Westwood will face No.12 seed Albuquerque Hoops on Sunday afternoon at 4:40 p.m. in Round 2 of the single-elimination tournament.