UCLA aims high, gets the victory

Times Staff Writer

Josh Shipp’s shot, taken with UCLA trailing California by a point, was created from desperation and released inches from the baseline near the Bruins’ bench. The ball arched high and seemed to pass over the corner of the backboard before dropping through the net, causing barely a ripple of movement and hitting the floor with 1.5 seconds left.

With that, the Pauley Pavilion crowd transformed into a bedlam of celebration over third-ranked UCLA’s 81-80 win over the Bears.

The Bruins (28-3, 16-2) had already clinched the Pacific 10 Conference regular-season title with a 77-67 overtime win over Stanford on Thursday. California (15-14, 6-12) finished in ninth place. But the emotions were high because it was senior day and because UCLA had made a second straight stunning comeback and because that last shot came from a junior who has been struggling to make jump shots lately.

After all the hugging and cheering and crying and yelling though, it turned out that Shipp’s shot may have not been allowable. According to Rule 7, Section 1, Article 3 of the 2008 NCAA basketball rules, “The ball shall be out of bounds when it passes the backboard from any direction.”


Said Shipp of his shot: “Easy to do it when you’re playing horse with two people in the gym. This was one of those tough shots, any game winner is tough, but especially when it went over the backboard.”

UCLA freshman center Kevin Love described his feelings about the winning shot as, “It was going over the backboard, I thought it was going to hit the back of the backboard and bounce out. But it hit all net and it didn’t even hit any rim.” Backup center Lorenzo Mata-Real said, “When Josh threw it up, I saw it coming over the backboard and then I saw it going into the net.”

Conference supervisor of officials Bill McCabe, while not commenting on whether Shipp’s shot crossed the backboard, said: “If you shoot the ball over the backboard, it’s out of bounds. It comes right over the corner. After the game the official said it was too close to call.”

This was the second time in two days that McCabe had to comment about a controversial call that favored UCLA. On Friday he had said official Kevin Brill should not have called a foul on Stanford’s Lawrence Hill with 2.5 seconds left the night before. Hill tried to block a shot by Darren Collison, who made two free throws and tied the score in regulation.

Shipp’s shot brought the Bruins back from what had been a 60-49 deficit with less than 10 minutes left. And Shipp was in position to take the winning shot only after the 6-foot-10 Love made a double-pump three-point basket with 17 seconds left to cut Cal’s lead to 80-79 and after the Bruins pressured the Bears into an inbounds turnover that was the subject of post-game complaining.

With 15.7 seconds left, Eric Vierneisel tried to pass the ball to Ryan Anderson who was guarded by Russell Westbrook. Within a second, Anderson fell to the floor and the ball was ruled out of bounds off Anderson.

“When the game’s coming down to the stretch like that and you’re inbounding the ball they’re supposed to foul,” Anderson said. “They clearly tackled me -- maybe not tackled me -- but I fell to the ground and it didn’t go our way.”

Westbrook winked when he said, “All ball. All ball.”

Cal Coach Ben Braun said, “Anderson was fouled, but they didn’t call it. No way that should have happened. I wasn’t concerned with the shot [by Shipp]. I was more concerned with the foul not being called. I’m disappointed that call was not made.”

After UCLA got the ball back, Cal forward Jamal Boykin blocked a shot by Collison out of bounds. Shipp then took the inbounds pass and made his miracle shot with 1.5 seconds left.

“There were two incredible shots,” UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. “Kevin’s double-clutch three with a guy hanging on him and Josh made an incredible horse shot, unbelievable.”

Love, who led five Bruins in double figures with 22 points, said when he took his three-pointer his hope was that Anderson would foul him. “I was going for the foul,” Love said. “When I double clutched he went vertical, he actually tipped the ball on the way up.”

Up next is the Pac-10 tournament, where UCLA is top seeded. The Bruins will play the winner of Wednesday’s game between ninth-place California and eight-place Washington at 2:38 p.m. Thursday at Staples Center. Cal upset UCLA in overtime last season in the Bruins’ first conference tournament game.

Former UCLA coach John Wooden, 97, remains hospitalized while recovering from a broken wrist and collarbone he suffered in a fall Feb. 28. Wooden’s daughter Nan Muehlhausen said Wooden was still suffering from a rapid heart beat because of medication.