Saturday, January 25

UCLA battles for close win


1 Tim Bradbury / Daily Bruin

Washington 57

Senior guard Larry Drew took a step away from the basket, and calmly drilled a jumper with a second left on the game clock.

His teammates mobbed him and Bruin fans let out a sigh of relief as the senior guard’s buzzer beater lifted the UCLA basketball team to a 59-57 victory over Washington on Thursday night.

“Obviously I had enough time to get the basket and create a shot for myself and my teammates,” said Drew, who received the inbound pass with 10 seconds left.

“I think the defense really dictated it. I was open. I had confidence in my jumper and took a shot and it went in.”

The senior, who averages eight assists a game, has largely been a facilitator rather than scorer this season. But with the game on the line Thursday night, Drew was not afraid to step up.

“I couldn’t be happier for somebody. He is our lone senior. He wanted it, it was a good look and he knocked it down,” coach Ben Howland said.

The buzzer beater was an exhilarating finish to an excruciating game.

UCLA and Washington combined for 29 turnovers. Both teams shot less than 50 percent from the field.

“We found a way to win shooting poorly … a lot of that was just through perseverance,” Howland said.

“We had a whole week to think about losing to USC at home. We found a way to win just through hard work.”

Thursday marked the third straight game in which the Bruins have shot less than 42 percent from the field. It’s a disturbing trend, one that freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad is confident will work itself out.

“I just think that we are rushing,” he said.

“We got good looks, we just missed shots that we usually make. Some days are just going to be like that and I just try to get offensive boards. … We got some karma and some good stops. I’m just happy we could win the game.”

Muhammad struggled offensively throughout the game, taking 23 shots, more than twice the number of any other Bruin. However, his 22 points led all players, as did his six offensive boards.

As a team, UCLA was not as successful rebounding.

The Huskies out-rebounded the Bruins by 10, the third straight game where the opposing team has had eight or more boards than UCLA. Washington’s 7-foot senior center Aziz N’Diaye set a career high with 18 rebounds.

After losing two straight games with similar struggles on offense and defense, the fact that UCLA was able to pull out a win represents an important step for the team.

“It’s a confidence booster and it just goes to show that if you just keep playing as hard as you can, even if games get ugly, we can win,” Drew said.

“As a team I am proud of the way we stuck together and just keep battling.”

UCLA closes out its three game home stand against Washington State on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Email Sheth at [email protected].

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