Win some, lose some: Six buzzer-beaters during UCLA coach Mick Cronin’s two-year tenure
Mick Cronin’s cardiac kids were at it again.
His Bruins lost a heartbreaker Saturday, when Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs hit a game-winning three-pointer in overtime that sent the Bulldogs to Monday’s national championship game and ended UCLA’s magical March run. It was just the latest of six buzzer-beaters involving the Bruins in Cronin’s two-year Westwood tenure.
Here’s a look at the thrillers.
Feb. 27, 2020: UCLA 75, Arizona State 72 — Jaime Jaquez Jr. says hello
Like almost all young kids with a ball and a hoop, Jaquez practiced buzzer-beaters in the park. Before he was starring at Camarillo High, then at Pauley Pavilion, the guard was counting down, 3, 2, 1, in his head and letting it fly on playgrounds around Ventura County.
The experience paid off when Jaquez announced his arrival in a UCLA jersey with a game-winning three-pointer against Arizona State. With the score tied, the freshman received a pass from Tyger Campbell and drilled the shot over the outstretched arm of a defender, falling to the floor as the ball splashed through the net with 0.6 seconds remaining.
“Jaime was just so open and I knew he was going to hit it,” said Campbell, who had 14 assists in the game. “I passed it back and he stepped into it and it was cash. It was when it left his hands.”
March 7, 2020: USC 54, UCLA 52 — Jonah Mathews’ senior send-off
Although the 2020 NCAA tournament would be canceled, USC’s Jonah Mathews still delivered an iconic March moment as he hit a step-back three-pointer with one second to play in the season finale.
The Bruins, carrying a seven-game winning streak, led by one with nine seconds left when USC coach Andy Enfield called for an isolation play for his senior guard. Mathews enjoyed the outcome. It was his last game at Galen Center. It was against the Bruins. It was his first game-winning shot.
“This is a dagger in their heart,” Mathews said of his rivals. “I know it’s going to stick with them forever. ... It’s going to stick with me forever, too.”
Jan. 23, 2021: Stanford 73, UCLA 72 — Inbounds frustration
Stanford fooled UCLA not once but twice with the same play as the Cardinal beat the Bruins on an inbounds pass as time expired in overtime.
Down one with 0.8 seconds remaining in overtime, Stanford’s Michael O’Connell scanned the floor from the baseline. Oscar da Silva stood still as a teammate circled him, drawing the attention of UCLA’s defense. No one saw Da Silva cut to the lane until he was already laying the ball up over Jules Bernard.
“The same guys were in that gave up the same layup at the end of the first half,” Cronin said. “At the end of the day, it’s the coaching staff’s job to make sure you’re prepared for something like that.”
The ball fell through the net as time expired and it landed in Bernard’s hands. The UCLA guard slammed it with two hands to the floor in frustration as Stanford celebrated ending UCLA’s 8-0 start to Pac-12 play.
March 6, 2021: USC 64, UCLA 63 — Trojans do it again
Almost exactly one year after Mathews crushed the Bruins with a late three-pointer, USC’s Tahj Eaddy served UCLA a dose of déjà vu.
The senior transfer guard hit a corner three with 1.4 seconds remaining, sealing a comeback for the Trojans at Pauley Pavilion in a regular-season finale.
The play, which Enfield joked was called “Hail Trojan,” was meant to go to star freshman Evan Mobley. But the 7-footer was hounded by defenders. Point guard Ethan Anderson instead flung the inbounds pass to Eaddy in the near corner. Wearing the same No. 2 jersey as Mathews did a year ago, Eaddy was mobbed by teammates in celebration.
March 28, 2021: UCLA 88, Alabama 78 — Bruins bounce back
Hep Cronin taught his son to foul with a late three-point lead. Mick didn’t listen this time.
The Bruins were up by three against Alabama in the NCAA tournament’s regional semifinal with four seconds remaining when the Crimson Tide easily drove past halfcourt and to the edge of the oversized March Madness logo, where Alex Reese drained a game-tying three-pointer with four-tenths of a second left.
Hep, in the stands to watch his son‘s team after more than a year of separation because of the pandemic, ripped off his mask and nearly threw it as UCLA went to overtime.
The Bruins atoned for the mistake in the extra period, scoring the first seven points to advance to the regional final.
“We knew that we had nothing to worry about it,” Jaquez said of the dramatic shot. “This is March. It happens all the time.”
April 3, 2021: Gonzaga 93, UCLA 90 — Suggs goes to the bank
A decade and a half after Crying Adam Morrison became a meme, the former Gonzaga star got sweet relief in a Bruins vs. Bulldogs Final Four rematch.
The instant classic featured 19 lead changes and 16 ties as the No. 11 seed Bruins traded punches with undefeated Gonzaga. Johnny Juzang put UCLA in position for a second overtime after collecting a rebound off his own miss and laying it in to tie the game with 3.3 seconds remaining.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few had one timeout but let his star freshman attack UCLA’s scrambling defense. Time expired as Suggs’ shot from inside the midcourt line floated toward the basket. The ball banked off the backboard and rattled in.
Morrison let out a full-throated yell on the Gonzaga radio call as the Bulldogs’ undefeated season, and shot at a first NCAA championship, remained intact.
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