The Maples Massacre started as a Mach-speed mauling here Thursday night, then it got really got ugly.
A nightmare? A shock to the system?
More than anything, it was a forced march into humbling history for this spellbound UCLA Bruin team, which hit the canvas hard and early enough to start regrouping for its next game about 10 minutes into this game.
Eventually, inevitably, UCLA succumbed to No. 21 Stanford, 109-61, a 48-point embarrassment that was the worst defeat the Bruins have ever suffered.
And, as it unfolded before a Maples Pavilion crowd of 7,391 that seemed as stunned as the players involved, boy, did it look like it. The Cardinal fans, who swarmed the court after last season's one-point victory over UCLA, shuffled straight for the gates Thursday, as if they were drained and dreaming.
"They played at a magic level," said UCLA interim Coach Steve Lavin, "and we played terrible."
Who said this wasn't a record-breaking Bruin team? The Bruins cruised past the old UCLA record loss, which was a 38-point dumping at the hands of Arizona in February 1989, and came within seven points of breaking the record for the worst Pacific 10 Conference defeat of all time.
And it happened fast.
"They got up 5-0, 7-0, and we knew we had to score to get back into it," senior forward Charles O'Bannon said. "But before we knew it, they were up 17-1, and by then it was just a matter of staying together and keeping our poise the rest of the way."
What went wrong for a UCLA team that had won four in a row before Thursday? Just about everything:
Stanford senior point guard Brevin Knight lit up UCLA's slow-motion zone defense right off the bat, making three three-point shots in the first five minutes on his way to 25 points in 24 minutes; Cardinal center Tim Young dominated the Bruin big men, leading Stanford to a 45-26 rebounding edge; UCLA forgot how to pass and score, leading to the sudden 17-1 deficit with 15:05 left in the first half, and 8:30 later, a 41-15 hole.
After that, UCLA (7-4, 2-1 in Pac-10) never got closer than 24 points. At the half, it was 57-26. It brought back nightmares of Tulsa in the 1994 NCAA tournament, when UCLA trailed at the break, 46-17.
"I don't think we quit," said Lavin, who didn't start center Jelani McCoy in the second half after McCoy totaled only one point and one rebound in the first half.
"There's a difference between getting beat to the punch and quitting. We rushed, played into their hands, they outrebounded us, they shot great, and all of that adds up to a blowout."
Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery pulled out his best players early in the second half (and Lavin yanked most of his a few minutes later), but with guys like Ryan Mendez and Arthur Lee running free, the Cardinal (9-2, 2-1) kept romping.
And this UCLA team, which faces California at the Cow Palace in San Francisco on Saturday, had another piece of history.
"I'm part of history by winning the national championship too," senior guard Cameron Dollar said. "You have to take the good with the bad. Babe Ruth has the home run record and he has the strikeout record too, you know?
"Whether you win or lose, blow somebody out or get blown out, you have to move on to the next game and the next day. You can't give something like this a second thought."
This time, the Bruins, who have already gotten blasted by Kansas and Illinois this season (and who used to do this kind of thing to other teams), accepted the record rout like someone hit by a tornado: What could they do against a team that made 15 of 32 three-point shots?
"It's kind of embarrassing, but they played a great game, and sometimes you just can't do anything about something like that," said UCLA guard Toby Bailey, who led the team with 14 points.
"I think they would've beat some pro teams tonight, I really do, the way they were shooting it."
Said O'Bannon: "Even if we'd played a good game, if we'd rebounded well and made most of our shots, we still could've lost by 20. They played a flawless game."
The Cardinal did shoot it fabulously, setting a school record for three-pointers on a night when Kris Weems, the best three-point shooter in the conference, missed all six of his attempts.
Knight ended up making six of seven attempts from three-point distance, and forward Rich Jackson made all three.
UCLA, meanwhile, shot a season-low 36.7%.
"I knew we were going to play well," Knight said, "but if you would've told me we would've won by the margin we did, I would've called you a liar."
* USC FALLS
Ed Gray scored 28 points and Cal forced 25 turnovers to defeat the Trojans, 83-71. C3
* FIRST LOSS FOR OREGON
Washington State's Isaac Fontaine scored 28 points to help knock off No. 17 Oregon. C3
* SPREADING HER WINGS
Kate Starbird, who has been compared to Jerry Rice, leads the Stanford women. C4
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Worst Losses in UCLA History
Year Pts. Score 96-97 48 Stanford 109, UCLA 61 88-89 38 Arizona 102, UCLA 64 85-86 37 North Carolina 107, UCLA 70 37-38 36 Stanford 69, UCLA 33 39-40 34 USC 60, UCLA 26 38-39 33 USC 69, UCLA 36 36-37 33 Stanford 69, UCLA 36 34-35 33 USC 55, UCLA 22 51-52 31 Kentucky 84, UCLA 53 38-39 31 USC 57, UCLA 26