Bruins Earn Spot In Pac-10 Tournament

March 8, 2003

Box Score

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - UCLA gave itself the opportunity it so desperately wanted.

Dijon Thompson scored a career-high 26 points and the Bruins defeated Washington 83-72 to earn the last berth in the Pac-10 tournament Saturday night.

They earned the eighth seed in next week's tournament. But it could be over Thursday, when UCLA (9-18) will play No. 1 Arizona in the first round at Staples Center (1:20 p.m.). The Bruins lost twice to the Wildcats by a combined 71 points during the regular season.

"It's going to be a tough task, but we have to be up for the challenge," said senior Jason Kapono, who will finish his career as the first player to lead UCLA in scoring four consecutive years. "We're just fortunate, we're blessed and glad we're in the tournament."

"We won two games this weekend and that's a positive step in the right direction. Obviously, all this comes under the guarded optimism umbrella. We know we got a long way to go," head coach Steve Lavin said. "Now we have an opportunity. Whether you're 30-0 or you're 0-30, everyone is given 40 minutes in a single-elimination game format. That's all we can really ask for."

At 6-12, UCLA finished in a three-way tie for sixth in the conference with Oregon State and Southern California. However, the Bruins ended up with the No. 8 seed because they split with Oregon State and were swept by the crosstown rival Trojans.

Kapono and fellow senior Ray Young each had 20 points in their final home game. The rest of the Bruins combined for just six points in the second half.

"We've been playing real good basketball," Young said after UCLA won its second game in a row for the first time since early January. "We definitely need to transfer that effort to a top team in the nation as Arizona is. We know how good we are, how good we can play."

The Huskies (10-17, 5-13) could have made the tournament with a victory. Instead, they lost their 17th straight at Pauley Pavilion, where they haven't won since 1987.

Coached by former UCLA assistant Lorenzo Romar, Washington finished 2-10 on the road, including a 1-8 mark in conference play.

"I felt sorry for the team. They worked much too hard during the season for it to end like this," Romar said. "Their shooters just got away from us even though we played the same defense as the first half."

Nate Robinson led the Huskies with 14 points. Doug Wrenn, Bobby Jones and Will Conroy added 10 points each. Washington shot just 36 percent in the second half.

"Coach told us to contain and keep the lead in the second half, but their seniors got hot ... and we couldn't contain them," Robinson said.

The Bruins were clinging to a three-point lead when T.J. Cummings missed two free throws with 2:17 remaining. Young tipped in the second miss to keep the Bruins ahead 75-70.

Young made two free throws and Thompson hit a basket as UCLA led 79-70.

After a first half in which they trailed by 14 points, the Bruins dominated much of the final 20 minutes. They opened with a 39-16 run, including six straight points by Kapono, to take a 65-52 lead with 6:51 remaining. The spurt included 14 unanswered points, including consecutive 3-pointers by Thompson and Kapono.

Thompson's 3-pointer gave UCLA its first lead of the game with 11:19 remaining. The Bruins shot 74 percent in the second half.

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Friday, Oct 30
vs. Cal State Los ...
Los Angeles, CA
W, 95 - 57
Friday, Nov 13
vs. Monmouth
Los Angeles, CA
L, 81 - 84 (OT)
Sunday, Nov 15
vs. Cal Poly
Los Angeles, CA
W, 88 - 83
Thursday, Nov 19
vs. Pepperdine
Los Angeles, CA
W, 81 - 67
Monday, Nov 23
vs. UNLV
Lahaina, HI
W, 77 - 75
Tuesday, Nov 24
vs. Kansas
Lahaina, HI
L, 73 - 92
Wednesday, Nov 25
vs. Wake Forest
Lahaina, HI
L, 77 - 80
vs. CSUN
Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, Dec 03 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Kentucky
Los Angeles, CA
Sunday, Dec 06 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Long Beach State
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Dec 12 - 7:00 PM PST
at Gonzaga
Spokane, WA
Tuesday, Dec 15 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Dec 19 - 10:00 AM PST
vs. North Carolina
Brooklyn, NY
Tuesday, Dec 22 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. McNeese State
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, Jan 01 - 8:00 PM PST
at Washington
Seattle, WA
Sunday, Jan 03 - 6:30 PM PST
at Washington State
Pullman, WA
Thursday, Jan 07 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Arizona
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Jan 09 - 2:00 PM PST
vs. Arizona State
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, Jan 13 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. USC
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, Jan 20 - 8:00 PM PST
at Oregon State
Corvallis, OR
Saturday, Jan 23 - 1:00 PM PST
at Oregon
Eugene, OR
Thursday, Jan 28 - 7:00 PM PST
vs. Washington
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Jan 30 - 4:00 PM PST
vs. Washington State
Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, Feb 04 - 7:30 PM PST
at USC
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, Feb 12 - 6:00 PM PST
at Arizona
Tucson, AZ
Sunday, Feb 14 - 5:30 PM PST
at Arizona State
Tempe, AZ
Thursday, Feb 18 - 7:00 PM PST
vs. Utah
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Feb 20 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. Colorado
Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, Feb 25 - 6:00 PM PST
at California
Berkeley, CA