UCLA seniors go out on a sour note
It wasn’t what UCLA seniors Darren Collison, Josh Shipp and Alfred Aboya had envisioned.
Not sitting on the bench in the final disheartening moments of an 89-69 loss to Villanova in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Wachovia Center.
“It’s obviously disappointing ending your career on a big down like this one,” Aboya said.
The trio leaves UCLA with more victories than any other class in school history.
Shipp and Collison rank 12th and 16th, respectively, in scoring.
“When you think about Darren and Josh and Alfred and what they’ve meant to the program, it’s just painful for us to lose in this fashion,” Coach Ben Howland said.
Collison said he wanted his class to be remembered not for pedigree -- none were McDonald’s All-Americans -- but for effort.
“We didn’t worry about the NBA,” he said. “We just wanted to win games as much as possible and give it all our best.”
The season might be over, but a big question still lingers over the Bruins: Will freshman Jrue Holiday leave school early for the NBA?
“As of right now, I’m coming back,” he said in the locker room after the game.
But then came a clarification.
“I’m saying I’m coming back because I really haven’t [thought] about it,” he said. “I’m telling you I really don’t know. I actually have no clue because my season just ended.”
The underclassman has weeks to submit his name and, even then, can back out before the draft.
Saturday’s loss was historic for Howland, and not in a good way.
It was the biggest margin of defeat for one of his UCLA teams since a 107-83 loss to Arizona in February 2004, his first season in Westwood.
It was also Villanova’s biggest NCAA tournament victory in more than a decade.
Though the Wildcats are 4-0 in tournament games played at the Wachovia Center, their home away from home, Howland did not blame the setting.
“I’m not sure that the way we played today and the way they played, it would have made a difference where the game was played,” he said.
Collison, college basketball’s most accurate free-throw shooter at 91.5%, entered the game having missed 10 free throws all season in 118 shots. Against Villanova, he missed three of eight.