March Madness: UCLA beats Northwestern, returns to Sweet 16

How Sweet it’s.

For the third time in as many seasons, UCLA is advancing to the NCAA match’s second week.

The Bruins made it to the Sweet 16 once more as a result of one other pattern persevered Saturday on the Golden 1 Center: The closing minutes continued to be successful time.

Shaking off an enormous Northwestern rally through which the Wildcats erased a 13-point deficit, second-seeded UCLA held off the seventh-seeded Wildcats for a 68-63 victory within the second spherical.

The Bruins’ celebration was muted due to one other late-season damage.

UCLA senior guard David Singleton, whose solely three-pointer of the evening had opened a late, six-point lead, sustained a right ankle sprain when he slipped with 20 seconds left. He needed to be helped off the courtroom however returned and wiggled his fingers as he walked off to cheers from the gang. He gave reporters an upbeat assessment of his injury: “I just rolled my ankle. I’m fine.”

Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 24 factors, Amari Bailey added 14 and Tyger Campbell had 12 for the Bruins, who pulled away after making all of the performs they wanted to within the closing minutes. Campbell hurled the ball into the air after the ultimate second ticked off the clock.

UCLA (31-5) will play the winner of Sunday’s second-round recreation between Gonzaga and Texas Christian in a regional semifinal Thursday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

UCLA’s Tyger Campbell places up a shot in opposition to Northwestern within the first half Saturday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Boo Buie scored 18 factors, Matthew Nicholson had 17 and Chase Audige all 16 of his within the second half for Northwestern (22-12), which had its possibilities within the greatest recreation in class historical past given an absence of basketball custom.

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An extremely intense, back-and-forth recreation was tilting in UCLA’s path as Singleton buried a 3 to push the Bruins right into a 62-56 lead with 1:45 left, after an Adem Bona block had given their staff the possession. Northwestern’s Brooks Barnhizer made two free throws to tug the Wildcats inside 62-58.

Northwestern received the ball again after Jaquez airballed a troublesome baseline jumper that sailed over the rim, however the Wildcats missed two consecutive pictures and Campbell grabbed the rebound with 42 seconds left, was fouled and made two free throws to increase the benefit to 64-58, earlier than Buie made a brief jumper with 23 seconds left.

The Wildcats fouled Singleton, who was in such ache he threw an arm round coach Tyler Lesher whereas strolling down on the courtroom. UCLA’s Dylan Andrews made each free throws with 20 seconds left earlier than Buie missed a driving layup, successfully ending the Wildcats’ chacnes.

A “U-C-L-A!” chant echoed inside the world after Andrews’ three-pointer from the wing pushed the Bruins right into a 51-45 lead and capped a 6-0 surge. Just because it had earlier within the second half, Northwestern rallied, coming inside 51-50 on a Buie three-pointer.

It appeared like UCLA is perhaps on the way in which to a blowout when Bailey spun round Buie for a layup to offer the Bruins a 41-28 lead early within the second half.

But in an indication of issues to return, Jaquez airballed a three-pointer and the Northwestern followers let him hear it. The Wildcats then began discovering the rhythm that had eluded them within the first half, occurring an 11-2 push to tug inside 43-39 and drive UCLA coach Mick Cronin to name trip as Singleton and Bona argued on their solution to the bench.

UCLA's Kenneth Nwuba battles for a loose ball against Northwestern's Ty Berry in the first half.

UCLA’s Kenneth Nwuba battles for a free ball in opposition to Northwestern’s Ty Berry within the first half.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Sacramento California March 16, 2023-UCLA's Ammari Bailey, left, and Adem Bona battle for loose ball.

UCLA’s Amari Bailey, left, and Adem Bona, proper, battle for free ball in opposition to Northwestern within the second half.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Bona threw down a dunk popping out of the timeout however instantly clutched the left shoulder he damage through the Pac-12 match and departed. Northwestern rapidly pulled right into a 45-45 tie when UCLA’s Kenneth Nwuba was known as for goaltending on a driving layup by Buie.

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UCLA’s smothering protection did its job in serving to the Bruins take a 35-25 halftime lead, holding Northwestern’s veteran backcourt of Buie and Audige to 5 factors on a mixed one-for-eight capturing. Bailey and Andrews have been significantly suffocating of their efforts on Buie, denying him driving lanes whereas staying inside bad-breath distance.

The Bruins had significantly much less success stopping Nicholson, who made all 5 pictures on the way in which to 10 factors after scoring on quite a lot of lobs and pick-and-roll performs. All three UCLA huge males have been equally ineffective in stopping these simple baskets.

In his first look since strolling gingerly off the courtroom through the Pac-12 match, Bona struggled within the early going aside from a dunk off a pleasant cross from Bailey. Bona was known as for 2 fouls in a 24-second span and got here out, enjoying solely 4 minutes within the first half.

Nwuba continued his shocking stint because the Bruins’ finest huge man, blocking a shot that triggered a fastbreak ending in a Jaquez dunk. Jaquez and Bailey have been thei major protagonists on offense, combining for 25 factors by the midpoint.

UCLA’s full-court press additionally was efficient in pockets, serving to the Bruins take an 11-3 lead on factors off turnovers by halftime. It additionally allowed them to get out on the fastbreak as a lot as doable to maximise their enormous benefit in athleticism. At halftime, all 13 of the sport’s fastbreak factors belonged to the Bruins.

After UCLA’s first-round victory, Cronin joked that his sister, Kelly, can be rooting for Northwestern as a result of she was an alumna. Seeing the spot, Kelly Cronin’s college students at Summit Country Day High in Cincinnati, the place she’s the principal, posted pro-Northwestern indicators in her workplace, however simply to keep away from any confusion she wore a UCLA T-shirt.

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“She would never root against me,” Mick Cronin stated.

It would have been a futile effort anyway.