UCLA falls to Stanford on buzzer-beating layup in overtime for first Pac-12 loss
It was a wild swing of emotions, elation followed by heartbreak.
Jalen Hill made it seem as if it would hold up, blocking a shot to preserve the Bruins’ advantage with eight-tenths of a second left.
Then came the inbounds pass that could haunt UCLA for eternity.
Michael O’Connell threw it from along the baseline. Oscar da Silva caught it on a backdoor play, slicing through the paint for a buzzer-beating layup that gave the Cardinal a 73-72 victory over the No. 24 Bruins at Kaiser Permanente Arena.
While Da Silva’s teammates swarmed him in celebration under the basket, the Bruins waited for confirmation that the points counted.
The basket was good, and UCLA’s lengthy winning streak was over.
“One second you are excited,” Bruins guard Johnny Juzang said after his career-high 27 points became a secondary storyline. “But you got to finish.”
The Bruins (12-3, 8-1 Pac-12) couldn’t persevere through another game in which they played poorly for long stretches, but ended up watching their seven-game winning streak and unbeaten start to conference play end in inglorious fashion.
“We got what we deserved,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said, noting his team’s across-the-board breakdowns against an opponent missing three of its top players.
Not even an insanely hot stretch from Juzang, in which he propped his team up with 21 consecutive points while making eight straight shots to close the first half and open the second, could save the Bruins.
The game had fallen into a familiar pattern for UCLA before the final sequence. The Bruins started slowly and played catchup against an outmanned opponent.
Without surefire NBA prospects, UCLA has jumped to a 12-2 overall record and is 8-0 in Pac-12 Conference play, its best conference start since 1983.
Stanford (9-5, 5-3) was missing three of its top five scorers. Point guard Bryce Wills was out with a leg injury and dynamic guard Daejon Davis and freshman forward Ziaire Williams were out for unspecified reasons, taking a combined 34.9 points off the board for the Cardinal.
But it was UCLA that looked as if it was missing something in the early going. The Bruins were out of sorts, missing 13 of their first 15 shots, including their first five three-pointers, while also lacking intensity on defense.
“We played like we weren’t ready,” Campbell acknowledged.
Stanford took a 17-6 lead on a Da Silva up-and-under layup, and the Cardinal had all the momentum before Juzang singlehandedly wrested it away.
Juzang scored the final 16 points of the first half for the Bruins, making four three-pointers, to help them pull into a 27-27 deadlock. The sophomore’s 18 points by the game’s midpoint were a career high and helped his team withstand some of its worst basketball of the season.
“That day was coming for him,” Cronin said of Juzang, the Kentucky transfer who entered the game making only 31.1% of his three-pointers but finished making five of eight shots from beyond the arc and 11 of 19 shots overall.
The problem was that too few of his teammates did much of anything. Starters Jules Bernard and Cody Riley combined for five points, making one of five shots. Top reserve David Singleton went scoreless and Campbell also struggled until late in the game.
Campbell’s driving layup pulled the Bruins into a 58-58 tie with 38 seconds left in regulation, and UCLA got the ball back with a chance to win after Da Silva ran into a wall of defenders and missed a layup.
But Campbell missed a mid-range, fadeaway jumper with four seconds left and the game headed to overtime, in which the spunky point guard appeared ready for redemption.
He buried a floater in the lane with 5.5 seconds left in the extra period and got fouled, sinking the free throw to give UCLA a 72-71 lead. Hill then stepped over to block Jaiden Delaire’s shot out of bounds with less than a second left.
As warning shouts of “Lob!” could be heard from the Bruins’ bench, it was a line-drive pass to Da Silva that was UCLA’s undoing, leading Bernard to spike the ball in frustration after he had been beaten on the play. Da Silva finished with 26 points on a day when the Cardinal needed every one.
Cronin noted he had the same lineup on the court at the end of the game as he did at the end of the first half, when Stanford scored on a nearly identical out-of-bounds play involving Da Silva.
It was almost as if UCLA knew what was coming.
“We were trying to make sure to take away the lob and layups,” Juzang said.
The Bruins got it half right, and entirely wrong.
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