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The Sports Report: Stumbling Bruins lose again

Baylor's Caleb Lohner battles for the ball with UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Jaylen Clark.
(John Locher / Associated Press)
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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Ben Bolch: Mick Cronin could be heard addressing his team after its game Sunday, and there was nothing unusual about that.

Except that he was two rooms over.

Multiple walls separating reporters from the interview room and UCLA’s locker room inside T-Mobile Arena — with a media work room sandwiched in between — were no match for the coach’s booming voice, which carried through the barriers to convey his feelings.

They weren’t pleasant.

His fury centered on the defense, which abandoned his team once again. A failure to get stops in the second half doomed the eighth-ranked Bruins to an 80-75 loss to fifth-ranked Baylor in the consolation game of the Continental Tire Main Event.

Two days after giving up 51 points in the second half of a loss to Illinois, UCLA (3-2) surrendered 43 points after halftime against the Bears (4-1).

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“We’re not good enough to play to win this game — either game — defensively,” Cronin said when he finally met with reporters. “That’s my job. I’ve known it was coming.”

Cronin said it wasn’t just the five freshmen in his rotation who struggled, also mentioning fifth-year senior point guard Tyger Campbell among the culprits.

Everyone who tried to defend Baylor’s zippy guards LJ Cryer (28 points) and Adam Flagler (22) came up short. The duo combined to make eight of 16 three-pointers, including one by Cryer with 2 minutes 50 seconds left that was nearly a backbreaker after the Bruins had pulled within one point.

UCLA eventually had a chance to tie the score after forcing a shot-clock violation while down by three points, but Campbell’s pass into the post for freshman center Adem Bona was stolen by Flagler, who converted the turnover into a jumper with 18 seconds left to end the Bruins’ comeback hopes.

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The UCLA women’s team improved to 5-0 with an 80-63 win over No. 11 Tennessee (2-3) in the second round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The Bruins will face Marquette (5-0) in the championship game at 9 a.m. Monday on ESPN.

The Bruins were 16-for-30 from the three-point line, tying a single-game record in makes.

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RAMS

From Gary Klein: It qualified as another unwelcome milepost in a seemingly lost season, another symbolic sign that if the defending Super Bowl champion Rams are not done they are inching ever closer.

Midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s 27-20 defeat by the New Orleans Saints, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford walked tentatively to the sideline after he was sacked. He sat on the bench, coach Sean McVay racing to his side where they were immediately joined by team medical personnel.

And then Stafford, who had come out of concussion protocol Friday, slowly got up and walked as the Rams’ trainer ominously raised the blue injury tent.

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It might as well have been a white flag.

The loss at the Superdome dropped the Rams’ record to 3-7 and put them on the brink of elimination from playoff contention.

CHARGERS

From Jeff Miller: Travis Kelce had done this against the Chargers before.

But never against Derwin James Jr. — until Sunday night.

The Kansas City tight end beat James on a drag route for a 17-yard touchdown with 31 seconds remaining, lifting the Chiefs to a 30-27 victory at SoFi Stadium.

“It was just a tough situation,” James said. “He made a play.”

Kelce scored a touchdown late in regulation and then again early in overtime in Week 15 last year in this same venue as Kansas City triumphed in a similarly dramatic way.

That night, James had been injured early in the game and was not available to defend Kelce.

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Photos | Chiefs squeak past Chargers in 30-27 comeback win

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LAKERS

From Dan Woike: Eventually, it’ll be harder for the Lakers to follow this path, the one that everyone seems to agree is the one with the best chance of leading the team to a successful season.

But for now, with LeBron James on the bench recovering from a strained adductor muscle, there’s no doubt about what the team needs from Anthony Davis.

Davis being great, playing at an MVP caliber once again, is the clearest pathway to Western Conference relevance.

And, for the third straight game, he’s given them everything the Lakers could possibly need.

Davis has scored at least 30 points in the last three games, and for the third straight time, the Lakers left the court winners with a 123-92 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Early in the fourth, Davis went to the bench with 30 points, 18 rebounds, three steals and a block. The Lakers were up big — so big, in fact, that Vin Diesel felt comfortable enough to come down behind the Lakers bench to say hello.

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UCLA vs. USC

From Ryan Kartje: The moment was two years in the making, but those paying close attention at USC’s practice would know it’d been foreshadowed days earlier.

For Korey Foreman, his sophomore season had been anything but smooth to that point. Hoping for a fresh start after a frustrating freshman year, the former five-star prospect instead played only a bit part on a defense in desperate need of pass rushers.

Last week, ahead of playing UCLA, Foreman dropped into coverage during practice and pulled down an interception. After the play, safety Bryson Shaw approached him with a message.

“Let’s get it in the game now,” Shaw told him.

Fast-forward to Saturday, with Foreman looking up at the clock in the fourth quarter, UCLA driving while down by three to USC, with 1:32 left to play.

“I just knew at that moment, a play had to be made,” Foreman said. “I was just telling myself, let’s do it right here, right now.”

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Dorian Thompson-Robinson bruised but not beaten as UCLA prepares for Cal

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Plaschke: Bold title dream for Lincoln Riley and USC still alive after win over UCLA

USC and UCLA validated Fox’s belief that Big Ten future must include L.A.

Turnovers haunt Dorian Thompson-Robinson: Takeaways from UCLA’s loss to USC

Victory Bell mercenaries: How the transfer portal is shaping the USC vs. UCLA rivalry

WORLD CUP

From Kevin Baxter: After 12 years of planning, $220 billion in government investment and countless controversies involving everything from workers’ rights to beer sales, the 2022 World Cup kicked off Sunday night on the edge of the Qatari desert in a massive stadium built to look like a Bedouin tent.

It was a spectacular setting for the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East and the first to be held in a majority-Muslim country. And the night began with pomp worthy of those circumstances, with Morgan Freeman hosting a 30-minute opening ceremony that involved two sheiks, three camels, four drummers, the last 14 World Cup mascots and 32 dancers dressed as giant replicas of the participating teams’ jerseys.

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It ended in a 2-0 win for Ecuador, making Qatar the first host country to lose a World Cup opener. That spoiled the team’s tournament debut and disappointed many in the sellout crowd of 67,372, but the night was about more than just soccer. For Qataris, the hope is this tournament will prove the country, the smallest and youngest ever to host the event, is ready to become a major global player.

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Jungkook of BTS debuts World Cup song ‘Dreamers’ at opening ceremony in Qatar

Meet Andrés Cantor, the man whose breathtaking goal calls capture the ‘spirit’ of soccer

Qatar walks tightrope between Arab values and Western norms with World Cup gamble

Qatar World Cup: Start times for every match and how to watch

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1953 — Notre Dame ties Iowa 14-14 by faking injuries in both halves. With two seconds to go in the first half, a Notre Dame player stops the clock by faking an injury and the Fightin’ Irish score on the next play. With six seconds left in the game and Notre Dame out of timeouts, two players fake injuries and the Irish score on the last play to tie the game.

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1965 — The Cotton Bowl is packed with 76,251 fans, giving the Dallas Cowboys their first home sellout. The Cleveland Browns spoil the day with a 24-17 win.

1971 — The New York Rangers score eight goals in the third period of a 12-1 rout over the California Seals.

1981 — Brigham Young’s Jim McMahon passes for 552 yards in a 56-28 victory over Utah. Gordon Hudson sets the NCAA record for yards gained by a tight end with 259.

1982 — The NFL resumes play after seven weeks of the season were canceled when the NFL Players Assn. went on strike Sept. 23.

1987 — The Columbia Lions extend their Division I-record losing streak to 41 games with a 19-16 loss to Brown. Columbia gives up a touchdown with 47 seconds left in the game.

1987 — Southwestern Louisiana quarterback Brian Mitchell rushes for 271 yards and four touchdowns and passes for 205 yards in a 35-28 victory over Colorado State.

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1998 — Villanova’s Brian Westbrook becomes the first player to record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season and catches two touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 27-15 victory over Rhode Island.

2004 — Roger Federer wins a record 13th straight final, beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-2 in the title match of the ATP Masters Cup. Federer breaks the record of 12 straight finals victories shared by Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

2008 — Michigan’s 42-7 drubbing by Ohio State put a merciful end to the worst season in Michigan’s 129 years of intercollegiate football. The Wolverines (3-9) lose the most games in school history.

2010 — Jimmie Johnson becomes the first driver in the seven-year history of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship to overcome a point deficit in the season finale, finishing second to Ford 400 winner Carl Edwards while winning his record fifth consecutive title.

2015 — Brent Burns scores twice and Patrick Marleau gets his 1,000th career point — an assist on Burns’ first goal — to lift the San Jose Sharks over the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1.

2015 — Wes Washpun scores 21 points as Northern Iowa stuns top-ranked North Carolina 71-67 for its first win over the nation’s No. 1 team. The Panthers use a 29-8 run in the second half to turn a 50-34 deficit into a 63-58 lead. The Tar Heels scheduled the trip to Cedar Falls so senior Marcus Paige could play in his home state. Paige doesn’t play because of a broken bone in his right hand.

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2016 — Mackenzie Hughes holes an 18-foot par putt from off the green to win the RSM Classic and become the first rookie in 20 years to go wire-to-wire for his first PGA Tour victory. Four players return for the third extra playoff hole at the par-3 17th. Hughes makes his putt and watches Blayne Barber, Henrik Norlander and Camilo Villegas all miss par putts from 10 feet or closer.

2021 — Alexander Zverev of Germany captures his second ATP Finals men’s tennis title defeating world #2 Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4 in Turin.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Northern Iowa defeats No. 1 North Carolina. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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