Bruins race past Spider-men after trailing by 9 in the 1st lap, then ride Travis Wear to take the checkered flag in 71-63 win over Richmond
Be-ware of T. Wear!
Travis Wear played his best game as a Bruin on Friday night, making key shots down the stretch as UCLA got their 5th win in a row (5-0 since Reeves Nelson was dismissed from the team) with a 71-63 triumph over the Richmond Spiders. The Bruins started out slowly, coming out stone cold and falling behind 14-5 and then 21-12. The Spiders were using a Princeton-style, back-cut Offense to get the ball close to the rim for lots of easy shots, until Ben Howland switched his Defense to a Zone. The Spiders were totally befuddled, and had trouble scoring for the rest of the game, ending up at 33% from the floor. Richmond’s sudden ineptitude on Offense spurred the Bruins to a 19-3 run that spanned into the 2nd Half, giving the Bruins a 7-point lead, a lead that they never relinquished. After shooting 31% in the 1st Half, the Bruins doubled that to shoot 62% in the 2nd Half, during which
the lead fluctuated between about 4 and 9 points… but the Bruins couldn’t put the Spiders away. Late in the game, Richmond hit a couple of Three’s to put the pressure on, but the Bruins responded with poise, led by Travis Wear. T. Wear scored all of his 14 Points in the 2nd Half, and grabbed 3 of his 4 Rebounds after the break as well. In crunchtime, Wear hit a few clutch buckets, including a slam off an alley-oop from Jerime Anderson. Anderson was also a big contributor in the 2nd Half, scoring 11 of his 13 after Intermission, and setting up Wear for two of the crucial scores. Anderson is still a feast or famine enigma, as in addition to the good penetrations, dishes, and shots, he also had 4 official Turnovers, making several inexplicable, unforced blunders that kept Richmond in the game.
But with the help of Lazeric Jones (16 Points, 6 Rebounds) and David Wear (12 Points, 7 Rebounds), the Bruins were able to keep the lead. The Wears got 6 Offensive Rebounds, as the Bruins won the Battle of the Boards by double-digits for the 3rd game in a row. Controlling the Glass was a key factor, since the Bruins were not firing on all cylinders. Recent stand-out Norman Powell did not respond well to all the hype he got after putting up the best game of his young career, going only 1-for-6 for 2 Points. Tyler Lamb, who, like Powell, scored a career-high on Tuesday night, struggled all game on Friday night, going 1-for-7 and 0-for-3 from 3-Point Land. Josh Smith also had a sub-par outing, missing several opportunities underneath by going “finesse” instead of “power.” Smith ended 3-for-9, which means he missed 6 2-footers, and he also committed 3 Turnovers.
It’s a good sign that the Bruins can beat a decent team despite 3 integral parts of the engine not clicking. With Jones at the wheel, both Wears supplying the horsepower, and Anderson adding an occasional turbo boost, the Bruins had just enough torque to end up in Victory Lane — A nice place to spend the Christmas Holiday, before embarking on their rigorous Pac-12 Journey, which starts in the Bay Area next week.