Reporting from Berkeley — Missed chances, there were so many for UCLA against Stanford on Thursday.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Lazeric Jones missed a layup that would have put the Bruins ahead, 26-24, and given his team its first lead since the first 90 seconds.
Two minutes later, Josh Smith turned the ball over in the lane when a score would have given UCLA a lead.
Jerime Anderson missed a layup that would have inched UCLA ahead of Stanford, 39-37, and on another possession Tyler Lamb couldn’t hit a three-point shot and David Wear couldn’t turn an offensive rebound into a layup when the game was tied 42-42.
And there was the final sequence in the last 11 seconds, when Anderson missed a three and Jones had a jump shot blocked. One conversion and the Bruins win.
Instead, they can talk about those whiffs and the nine missed free throws and how to fix all that while trying to win their first Pac-12 game Saturday against California at Haas Pavilion.
On the day after the dispiriting 60-59 loss to Stanford, UCLA Coach Ben Howland let his team have a light practice — but with some extra free-throw shooting. The Bruins were 15 of 24 from the line against the Cardinal, a percentage Howland called “unacceptable” in a one-point loss.
“Our guards made 25 in a row and the big guys 23 in a row before missing,” Howland said.
Howland also said he was disappointed in losing a game where his team held the opponent to 34.5% shooting. But since the Bruins shot only 39.5% and were outrebounded by four, it all added up to a conference road loss that might have been a win.
He said the Bruins needed better offensive production from twins Travis and David Wear, who combined to make only one of nine shots. David, a starter, didn’t earn one trip to the foul line either, something else Howland found unacceptable.
Howland defended himself from criticism that he didn’t have a timeout to call when the Bruins got the ball with about 29 seconds left.
Anderson’s miss on an open three-pointer with 11 seconds left was a shot Howland said he couldn’t have drawn up any better if he’d had a timeout. David Wear rebounded but Jones missed a chance to pass to a wide-open Lamb at the end and instead had his own last-second shot blocked.
“But that wasn’t the only bad shot,” Howland said. “We had several missed layups, shots around the basket that we didn’t connect on. Sometimes I think guys are afraid to get the shot blocked. I’d rather get it blocked. Score it or get it blocked or get fouled. Players are too worried about getting shots blocked at times.”
As far as Cal, Howland is particularly aware of senior guard Jorge Gutierrez, who had 34 points and three steals in the Bears’ 76-72 overtime win over UCLA here in February.
It is a game Bruins sophomore Josh Smith remembers. “That one hurt so bad,” he said. “I can hardly wait to play them there again.”
With Chris Roberts doing UCLA’s play by play for the football game against Illinois on Saturday afternoon, Isaac Lowenkron is stepping in for the basketball radio broadcast that will be heard on AM 1150.