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Fouls were key to defeat

Times Staff Writer

It started innocently enough, with Lorenzo Mata picking up his fourth foul with 12 minutes 30 seconds remaining in the second half Sunday evening at Maples Pavilion.

Then came the fourth foul on Alfred Aboya with 10:05 left.

And by the time Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was whistled for his fourth foul with 9:39 to go, it had practically become an epidemic.

UCLA’s front line played in foul trouble down the stretch of the third-ranked Bruins’ 75-68 loss to Stanford, a pivotal development considering it enticed Cardinal players to drive into the paint.

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And it was no coincidence Stanford started its pivotal 15-0 run immediately after Aboya was called for his fourth foul, putting two Bruins big men in foul trouble.

“You want to keep being aggressive, but you’re in foul trouble so it kind of affected you a little bit,” Mbah a Moute said. "[But] that’s not the reason why we lost. We’re going to be in games where we have four fouls. We just have to learn how to play with four fouls.”

Mata was the only Bruin to foul out, doing so with 1:08 remaining, but UCLA Coach Ben Howland was forced to use reserves Ryan Wright and James Keefe more than he might have liked with Stanford making its second-half run.

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Howland pinned part of his team’s losing a 17-point lead on fatigue that may have resulted from grueling practices he conducted Friday and Saturday.

“We really, really did a good job of getting them to where they were sped up in the first half,” Howland said.

“The second half, that didn’t occur. It may be because I practiced them too hard the two days in between, so I’ll go back and evaluate that again. But we’ve got to be able to fight through that.”

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Junior guard Arron Afflalo said his inability to sustain his 17-point, first-half effort in the final 20 minutes was merely a result of missing shots. Afflalo made only two of 11 shots in the second half.

“Down in the later moments I tried to look for my shot, and that’s when it becomes even harder to focus in,” Afflalo said. “It’s real easy to score when plays are being executed correctly.”

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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UP NEXT FOR UCLA

Thursday vs. Oregon, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., FSN Prime Ticket -- UCLA probably will place an emphasis on stopping guard Aaron Brooks, whose baseline runner in the final seconds provided the winning points for the Ducks in the last meeting.


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