Dec 5, 2001
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Another ugly game for No. 20 UCLA. This time, the Bruins managed a victory.
Jason Kapono scored 18 points and keyed a second-half rally that put away UC Riverside 65-50 Wednesday night.
"We were struggling. We didn't have that jell working tonight," Kapono said. "We can't say we're flying high right now. It was just good to get a win."
The Bruins (3-2) trailed by six points in the first half and couldn't shake the Highlanders (0-5) for the first six minutes of the second half.
Lloyd Cook had 14 points for the Highlanders, who trailed 38-37 before the Bruins put together their only major scoring burst of a sloppy game.
"Our game plan was to limit their shooters from having easy shots, especially Kapono," said Jason Perkins, who added 11 points. "But we broke down. It seemed like we didn't even guard them sometimes down the court."
UCLA ran off 16 consecutive points, including seven by Kapono, to take a 54-37 lead with 7:54 remaining. It was part of a 27-13 run that closed the game. The Bruins' points were a season low and 12 below their 77-point average.
"It wasn't a pretty effort," UCLA coach Steve Lavin said. "We're searching for combinations of lineups and defenses that will allow us to get stops."
Zadkiel Elder came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers and draw the Highlanders within 11 points with 5:11 remaining. They hit nine 3-pointers in the game, better than their 5.5 average.
Coming off last week's upset loss to Pepperdine that dropped them 10 spots in the rankings, the Bruins still looked as though they hadn't recovered.
With freshman point guard Cedric Bozeman out 4-to-6 six weeks recovering from knee surgery, Kapono moved over to play the point and the Bruins went with three guards in their lineup.
One of them was fifth-year senior Rico Hines, who hasn't scored in 100 minutes of action this season. But he hustled after loose balls and wasn't afraid to dive on the floor.
"I lost myself to the game. I've got to set an example of how to play hard," Hines said. "I'm still trying to find my niche. The scoring is going to come."
With no one to penetrate, the Bruins relied on 36 percent outside shooting. Their press forced 20 turnovers, which were nullified by UCLA's 18 miscues.
"They're struggling at the point guard spot," Riverside coach John Masi said. "Kapono has got to handle the ball and do something and Hines has to play wing, a position he's not used to. But I've got a lot of problems myself."
The Highlanders faced the same lack of inside presence, and settled for tossing up long-range shots, enough of which went in to keep it close.
Riverside was playing its fifth consecutive road game in its first official season in Division I, after going 8-17 against mostly Division I opponents last season.