Men’s basketball triumphs in matchup against No. 4 Villanova in overtime
Players on No. 2 UCLA men’s basketball gather during the Bruins’ win over No. 4 Villanova on Friday. The victory marked the blue and gold’s first regular-season victory over a top-five team since 2016. (Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)
|No. 4 Villanova||77|
|No. 2 UCLA||86|
By Jared Tay
Nov. 12, 2021 11:27 p.m.
This post was updated Nov. 14 at 11:35 p.m.
April 4, 2021. The Bruins were playing in overtime against the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. Off a last-second heave, their season was over.
Nov. 12, 2021. The Bruins again found themselves in overtime against a top-five team after tying the game in its final moments.
This time, the Bruin faithful had something to celebrate.
“(There’s) an inner confidence that we’ve been in this situation that helped us lock down the stretch,” said junior guard Johnny Juzang. “Going into overtime, those eight possessions at the end of regulation, it’s lucky that we got guys with so much experience.”
As the clock ticked toward the three-minute mark of the overtime period, a turnaround jumper from Juzang gave the Bruins their first lead in nearly 20 minutes of game action. A charge taken by redshirt junior guard Tyger Campbell gave the Bruins the ball back on the ensuing possession, and a 3-pointer from junior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. pushed the lead to five.
That was enough to seal the win.
In the first nonconference matchup between top-five teams at Pauley Pavilion since the 1992 season, No. 2 UCLA men’s basketball (2-0) defeated No. 4 Villanova (1-1) by a score of 86-77 in overtime Friday night.
“They know how to win,” said coach Mick Cronin. “They learned that last year. That’s why I told them at the (under-four-minute) timeout, ‘We’ve been in these games.’”
It was the Bruins’ first extra period since their season ended nearly seven months ago in Indianapolis.
The overtime period came after Villanova had outscored the Bruins by two in the second half, shooting a combined 15-of-31 from the floor. They made good on six of their 10 3-point attempts in the final 20 minutes.
But a stop, courtesy of Jaylen Clark, forced the game into overtime after the sophomore guard prevented Wildcat guard Justin Moore from hitting a game-winning layup.
“You have to have a guy like that,” Cronin said. “He’s got a little Bearcat written on him.”
The defensive stand came after senior guard Jules Bernard had tied the game at 67-67 off a midrange jumper. The Bruins were down by two points in the final minute of the second half and hadn’t trailed by more than four in the final five minutes.
The gap between Villanova and UCLA wasn’t always so close, however.
Ten minutes prior to the end of regulation, UCLA found itself down by 10 points. Villanova had hit consecutive 3-pointers to give it the largest lead of the night.
“We just said, ‘We’re still in this and the game’s not over,’” Juzang said. “We don’t come to lose, so we were ready to just lock in and battle, put together stops, and make some great plays.”
The UCLA deficit was decreased on the back of two consecutive 3-pointers from Campbell who had 14 points on the night and four assists.
“I’m a confident shooter, confident player – I like to play with swag,” Campbell said. “When I pulled up, I was open, they gave me the shot, so I just took it.”
After Villanova responded with a 3-pointer of its own, jumpers by Jaquez and Bernard closed the gap to two points. The lead for the Wildcats vacillated between two and four points throughout the remainder of the contest until inside the one-minute mark.
The second half saw UCLA and Villanova combine for 27 points through the first six minutes of the final frame, with the Wildcats going perfect from the 3-point line on four attempts during that period.
In a stretch that lasted more than three minutes starting at the 15:48 mark in the second half, Villanova shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, before missing for the first time in 4 1/2 minutes on a 3-point shot with a four-point lead.
“My message the whole time was, ‘We had to get some stops,’” Cronin said. “When you play a great team, like them or us, guys hit hard shots. It’s the breakdowns that get you.”
Compared to the high-scoring start to the second half, both defenses held each other to a combined 10 points on 7-of-30 shooting in the first eight minutes of the first half. But the shots began to fall after Clark entered and secured his first points off his second offensive rebound of the game.
UCLA hit its next seven shots, pushing the lead to 23-17 before freshman guard/forward Peyton Watson missed a midrange jumper at the top of the key.
During that perfect stretch, Bernard hit the Bruins’ first 3-pointer from the left wing. Senior guard David Singleton followed it up by finding his stroke quickly after he came off the bench, hitting his first two 3-point attempts.
Jaquez, along with Bernard and Campbell, contributed six points to that Bruin run.
“When we need someone to make a great shot, we’ve got guys that can make those,” Jaquez said. “We live for the crowd, we live for those big moments, and it just feeds us more fuel.”
The Wildcats went on a 16-2 run of their own in the latter half of the opening frame, during which the Bruins had four turnovers.
Though Villanova led by as much as five in the first half, UCLA went on a 7-0 run themselves before heading into the locker room off the back of a 3-pointer by Bernard and four points from Juzang that gave them a two-point advantage.
The meeting between UCLA and Villanova was the first time two top-five programs have faced off at a nonneutral site since the AP Poll’s inception more than 70 years ago. With the win, the Bruins notched their first regular-season victory over a top-five program since 2016.
“We were relentless – they were relentless too,” Cronin said. “Nobody should have lost this game.”