Men’s basketball exits Pac-12 tournament with overtime loss to Oregon State
Junior guard Jules Bernard recorded his first double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough, as UCLA men’s basketball fell to Oregon State on Thursday, bowing out in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals. (Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin staff)
By Sam Connon
March 11, 2021 5:39 p.m.
This post was updated March 11 at 6:21 p.m.
LAS VEGAS – Jules Bernard had multiple chances to win the game for the Bruins.
The first time, the junior guard went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line when a perfect trip would have given UCLA a lead with three seconds left in regulation.
The second time, he was leading a fast break and threw an errant kick-out pass when a layup would have vaulted the Bruins ahead in the waning moments of overtime.
Because of Bernard’s missed free throw and last-second turnover, No. 4 seed UCLA men’s basketball (17-9, 13-6 Pac-12) lost 83-79 to No. 5 seed Oregon State (15-12, 10-10) in Thursday’s Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal matchup. The Bruins led by as many as 16 points in the first half but forfeited said lead en route to their fourth-straight loss.
Coach Mick Cronin said the loss can’t be placed squarely on any one player’s shoulders, and that Bernard was simply trying to avoid the charge by dishing out to a driving teammate.
“When a kid’s trying to make the right play, (you) do the same thing that my dad told me when I was 8 years old,” Cronin said. “When you get to the foul line, you got to slow down, get under control. … But he was trying to do the right thing.”
By getting knocked out of the conference tournament so early, UCLA will have to wait until Sunday’s selection show to see if it is still worthy of a March Madness bid.
“I do feel like we are a tournament team,” Bernard said. “We have the players to be a tournament team.”
The teams were tied at 12 apiece early on in the first half, but UCLA staged an 18-2 run to take full control with a 30-14 lead. Oregon State strung together an 11-2 run in a two-minute stretch at the end of the first half and start of the second, eventually cutting the deficit to seven.
The Bruins and Beavers went back and forth for the next few minutes, as Oregon State hit a field goal on each of its possessions following UCLA’s first five field goals of the period. The seven-point Bruin lead was erased in less than a minute, however, after the Beavers flushed a dunk, hit a floater and knocked down a 3 to tie things up and rile up their friends and family section at T-Mobile Arena.
Following a jumper by junior guard David Singleton that put UCLA up by two, 17 of the next 23 points scored came off of free throws, and the Bruins were able to go up 61-54.
That’s when guard Zach Reichle drilled three 3-pointers in less than two minutes to make it a two-point game again. The Beavers sank 10 triples in the game, twice as many as the Bruins.
Singleton and sophomore guard Johnny Juzang shot a combined 40.2% from deep in the regular season, but the pair finished 2-of-11 on 3-pointers Thursday.
“We need to be a lethal 3-point shooting team because we’re not a lethal athletic team defensively,” Cronin said. “You got to play the hand you’re dealt right now, so we got to try to get those guys in the gym and get them back where they make open shots.”
Even after Reichle’s scoring burst, UCLA found itself leading by four points inside the final minute.
But as was the case against USC, Oregon, Colorado and others, a late lead wasn’t enough.
Guard Ethan Thompson made it a one-possession game before forward Warith Alatishe gave the Beavers their first lead since the opening minutes with a layup with 11 seconds to play.
After Bernard forced overtime at the free-throw line, Alatishe continued to take over down low, hitting Oregon State’s only two field goals of the extra period. The big man finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, outpacing redshirt junior forward Cody Riley’s seven points and six rebounds.
“We knew (Alatishe) was going to be a problem, but our game plan was to not let him catch it in the low post,” Cronin said. “We failed miserably at that.”
Riley fouled out after getting tagged with a flagrant on an official review late in the game, while sophomore guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. picked up his fifth foul less than a minute later. There were a total of 48 personal fouls called in the game.
One foul that wasn’t called was on a driving attempt by Bernard with 41 seconds left in overtime and the Bruins down by one. Even with the contact, it was ruled as a clean block, and the game continued to slip away following the no-call.
Bernard shied away from making any excuses though and said he would just have to live with the result.
“The refs, they did a great job throughout the game,” Bernard said. “It’s obviously a hard job, they can’t see everything. So it is what it is on that.”
The whistles cost UCLA two of its most experienced contributors down the stretch, but it was unforced errors that cost the Bruins the game.
Time will tell if those errors cost them a trip to the NCAA tournament as well.