11th Seed UCLA goes ice cold, missing all 8 of their three-pointers until the final 3 minutes (when they were already down by 17), with Bryce Alford going 1-for-8 from the floor before that final 3 minutes, as a 12-0 second half run gives Gonzaga control, and the 74-62 win, and entrance into the Elite 8
UCLA has made at least one three-pointer in every game since February, 2000, a streak of 521 games. But for the first 37 minutes of their Sweet Sixteen contest against Gonzaga on Friday night, they didn’t hit any. Despite their frigid shooting, the Bruins were still within 1 point of 2-seed Gonzaga, early in the second half, after UCLA scored the first 6 points after Intermission. But then, Zags’ Coach Mark Few called a time out, and the Bulldogs responded with 12 straight points, holding the Bruins scoreless for 5 minutes.
The Bruins never recovered from this drought, and Gonzaga cruised to a 74-62 victory, advancing them to the Elite Eight. Blame it on the dome environment, Tournament nerves, or even decent defense by Gonzaga, but whatever it was, no Bruin could shoot straight in Houston. Norman Powell, playing in his final game in Bruin Blue, carried his team early, scoring about 75% of the team’s early points, all on nifty drives to the hoop. But neither he nor anyone else in Blue uniforms could hit an outside shot. Tony Parker started slowly, finally asserting himself in the paint later, but Gonzaga’s big men were more effective inside, so Parker’s efforts were not sufficient to keep the Bruins in the game.
Isaac Hamilton scored 4 of the 6 at the start of the second half, giving Bruin fans hope, but without anything from Bryce Alford or Kevon Looney, the Bruins did not have enough firepower to sustain their momentum. Gonzaga’s bigs took over on their Offensive end, and the Bulldogs pulled away.
So the Bruins’ Basketball season is over, their best player Norman Powell graduates, and their most talented player Kevon Looney likely turns Pro. UCLA has a couple of new, highly-touted recruits coming in, and it is reasonable to assume that reserves Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman will improve markedly… but it is hard to imagine the Bruins rising to the Elite Eight level very soon. If they are to rise, Alford and Parker will have to show up in the biggest of big games, moreso than they did tonight.
Now, it’s on to Baseball season, and then, Football season, where the Bruins OWN THIS TOWN, with three straight annihilations of u$c on the gridiron. THAT, is the one and only good thing about Hoops season ending — at least we are closer to another beatdown of the trojans’ only reason for existing.