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The game-winner!

Bruins tame Notre Dame — UCLA blows a 14-point Second Half lead, trails by 5 with less than 3 minutes left, but comes back to tie, then a Jalen Hill blocked shot sets up a Kris Wilkes 3-pointer in the final second to beat the Fighting Irish 62-59

UCLA’s 2nd best Rivalry is back.  40+ years after some of the most memorable college basketball games ever played, UCLA and Notre Dame were back at it, and you could almost hear Dick Enberg calling the action.  Just like that infamous game in 1974 that ended the 88-game winning streak — still the greatest streak of all time — this one went right down to the final buzzer.

It was a game of runs, with Notre Dame coming out NOT intimidated, scoring the first 6 points of the game, and being up 8-2 before the Bruins arrived.  That’s when UCLA went on a 13-0 spurt to go up 15-7.  The Irish kept it close for most of the half, until the Bruins closed out the half on a 9-0 splurge, to take a 31-20 lead into the locker room, with Kris Wilkes leading the scoring with 8.

UCLA opened the second half with a Wilkes 3-point play, so they were up by 14, and it looked like they would pull away and cruise past the unranked visitors.  Even Bill Walton, no stranger to this storied rivalry, said the rout was on.  But Notre Dame did not quit, outscoring UCLA by 19 over the next 12 minutes, to hold a 5-point lead with less than 6 minutes remaining.

UCLA could have hung their heads after going ice cold and allowing this momentum shift in their house.  The sellout crowd was dead.  But then Notre Dame opened up the door.  They fouled Prince Ali while he was shooting a three.  He missed 2 of 3, so the Irish gave him another chance, fouling him AGAIN while he was shooting another 3.  This time he made all 3, and the score was tied with 2:17 left.

No one for either team scored for the next couple of minutes, so the Irish had a chance to win it with 8 seconds left.  A Notre Dame player drove to the hoop, but his shot was swatted away by Jalen Hill, his second block in crunch time!  Without calling time out, the Bruins moved the ball up court, and Ali shoveled it to Wilkes with 2 seconds left, and Wilkes, who had been battling leg cramps all half, launched a three-pointer in traffic, and nailed it.  The Irish has .9 seconds left.  After a time out, they did manage to heave a prayer at the buzzer, but it wasn’t close, and the Bruins prevailed, 62-59.

Wilkes was the hero, fighting through the pain to lead all scorers with 14.  Hill was the Defensive star, with the huge block plus a team-leading 11 Rebounds off the bench.  And it was all made possible by Point Guard Jaylen Hands, who had 11 Assists and 12 Points for a Double-Double.  The man who many thought was too “shoot-first” to be a passable Point Guard now LEADS THE PAC-12 IN ASSISTS.

Moses Brown was also a major contributor on both ends, with 8 Points, 9 Boards, 1 Block, and countless instances where his Defensive presence forced the Irish to scrap an Offensive play.  Cody Riley also came up big, with 6 Caroms, 2 Blocks, and 9 Points, including a rare 3-pointer as the Bruins first made jumper of the game when they started cold.

As usual, the Bruins played streaky, with some hot streaks and some lulls.  When the Bruins were trailing near the end, Coach Alford went “small,” putting Brown on the bench, and it worked.  I thought maybe Moses was sitting because his poor foul shooting (he was 0-4 from the line) made him a liability, but maybe it was just to increase the tempo or create mismatches against a zone, with speed.  Whatever the reason, the strategy paid off, and the Bruins remain undefeated in the friendly confines of Pauley Pavilion, leaving Digger Phelps crying in his green beer back in Indiana.

Here are 43 more photos from the game and postgame celebration…

"WILKES IS TRUE, SO IRISH STEW" was published on December 9th, 2018 and is listed in Blue & Gold News, UCLA/usc/Cheerleader Photos, UCLA/usc/Sports Photos.

Comments on "WILKES IS TRUE, SO IRISH STEW": 1 Comment

  1. Rick wrote,

    What was the final tally on missed layups/dunks? I know it was FOURTEEN in the first half alone! I was wondering if we set some sort of record…
    Considering that and our continued travails from the line, it SHOULD have been a blowout worthy of Digger’s viewership!

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