Another Sad End in the Bruins' Saga

Times Staff Writer

The doors to Pauley Pavilion should include a disclaimer:

Entering this building can cause lightheadedness.

UCLA jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first eight minutes against No. 22 Oregon and the effect was so disorienting that Coach Steve Lavin replaced three hot starters all at once.

The lead vanished in moments, the Bruins trailed by seven at halftime and despite clawing back to force overtime, lost, 96-91, Thursday night in front of 9,008 who must now believe they have seen it all.

Although the last UCLA victory is difficult to recall.

The Bruins have lost seven in a row for the first time since 1945-46 and also have lost seven in a row at home, where they are 2-8. The worst record in 37 previous seasons at Pauley Pavilion was 11-6 in 1987-88.

Oregon forward Luke Jackson, playing despite a cut finger, sliced and diced the Bruins, scoring 27 points off the bench and taking over after point guard Luke Ridnour sat most of the second half because of four fouls.

Ridnour would like to forget the first 44 minutes -- he had four turnovers and made only three of 11 shots -- but he made four free throws in the last 28 seconds of overtime. The first two extended Oregon's lead to 94-91, and the next two followed a turnover by Bruin forward Dijon Thompson.

As has been the case for every Bruin down the stretch of every close game, Thompson appeared bewildered with the ball, double-clutching until it was batted from his hands by Ian Crosswhite with 13 seconds left.

UCLA (4-12, 2-6 in the Pacific 10 Conference) had a chance to win in regulation, inbounding the ball at midcourt with 4.2 seconds left. But Oregon surprised the Bruins with a zone defense and Cedric Bozeman inexplicably passed to Ryan Walcott in the backcourt.

Walcott, who has not made a field goal in five games, raced near the three-point line, found himself double-teamed and unleashed an airball.

"We were looking for Dijon at the top of the key, but I guess he wasn't open," Walcott said.

The dispiriting finish obscured breakout performances by freshman centers Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey.

Hollins replaced Andre Patterson, who sat out a second game in a row because of a sprained ankle, and picked up where he left off against California on Saturday, notching seven blocked shots, 11 rebounds and 11 points.

Fey played 12 minutes, scoring a season-high 11 points and keying UCLA's second-half comeback that peaked in a 78-74 lead with 4:20 to play on a dunk and a three-point basket by Thompson, who had 19 points.

But more good play by Jackson and the inside work of Crosswhite, who scored 22 points, kept the Ducks (15-4, 5-3) hanging around until the Bruins found a way to lose.

"We played hard, but until we come away with a win we can't feel good about it," said Jason Kapono, who led UCLA with 21 points.

Lavin went with a big lineup against the undersized Ducks, starting only one guard -- the 6-foot-6 Bozeman -- along with forwards Thompson and Kapono and post players T.J. Cummings and Hollins.

It was the eighth different starting lineup this season -- and the most effective. UCLA took a 22-11 lead, with Hollins, Kapono and Bozeman playing especially well. It marked the first double-digit Bruin lead in six games.

But Hollins, Cummings and Bozeman were replaced, and Oregon promptly went on a 31-13 run to end the half. Asked if he regretted making the substitutions, Lavin said, "Absolutely. There is not an adjustment or a decision made all year that has worked."

The starting group began the second half and within five minutes UCLA caught Oregon, 51-51, on Thompson's layup.

Again, the Bruins couldn't stand prosperity. Thompson was called for a technical foul seconds after the basket and Jackson made four free throws before the Bruins touched the ball again.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World