March 8, 2007
LOS ANGELES (AP) - On the losing end twice against UCLA after owning first-half leads, California nearly let it happen again. This time, the Golden Bears got an extra five minutes and finished off the Bruins.
Ayinde Ubaka scored eight of his career-high 29 points in overtime and California stunned fourth-ranked UCLA 76-69 in the Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals Thursday night.
"We fought too hard to give this one back," Cal coach Ben Braun said. "We were frustrated that we had two games with pretty good leads and lost."
UCLA's second straight defeat dealt a serious blow to its hopes of being a No. 1 seed in next week's NCAA tournament.
"I don't even care," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "If we don't play better than we're playing right now, anyone in the field of 64 teams will beat us."
Overtime turned into a blowout, with Cal outscoring the Bruins 15-8.
The game was a rematch of last year's Pac-10 title game, won by UCLA on its way to a runner-up finish in the national championship game.
Ryan Anderson added 18 points for the eighth-seeded Bears (16-16), who gave up a 16-point first-half lead.
"This is what I'm going to remember (from) my freshman year," said Anderson, who had a career-high 27 points in a 70-51 opening-round win over Oregon State.
Ubaka, a senior guard, encouraged his teammates to keep the upset in perspective, with No. 16 Oregon waiting in Friday's semifinals. The teams split their two meetings this season.
"This is great, but we have another game tomorrow," he said. "Oregon doesn't care that we won this game."
"It's a definitely disappointing way to end the season," said a glum-looking Shipp, who hit five 3-pointers in the first half. "We had a couple of mental mistakes."
UCLA's Arron Afflalo, the Pac-10's player of the year, had his worst offensive performance of the season with three points, ending a streak of 29 games in double figures.
"It's hard to swallow, that's for sure," he said. "It's going to be a long week. The way I played tonight was a majority of the reason why we lost."
Free-throw shooting, a persistent problem for the Bruins, did them in, too. They were 15-of-29 from the line, while Cal hit 20-of-25.
Ubaka tied the game at 59 on a 3-pointer after a wild scramble with 54 seconds left in regulation. Collison drove the lane and scored to put the Bruins in front until Ubaka's floater with 15 seconds left forced overtime.
"We know he goes right, the scouting report says he goes right and he did exactly that and made a great shot," Howland said. "Ubaka absolutely dominated the game."
Collison couldn't answer again when his 3-pointer missed in the closing seconds.
"I thought we had momentum going into overtime," he said. "We spent so much energy coming back."
Afflalo scored his only field goal of the game to open overtime, but he never connected again. The Bruins watched as shots hit the rim and the Bears' offensive momentum continued unabated.
Afflalo, who prides himself on being UCLA's top defensive player, guarded Ubaka.
"What did he get, 29 points? That's unacceptable," Afflalo said. "It was my guy who was going above and beyond. I don't want to make an excuse for it. I'll make the adjustments."
Omar Wilkes, the son of former UCLA star Jamaal Wilkes, scored on a one-handed scoop to tie the game at 63. Ubaka hit a jumper that gave Cal the lead for good. Eric Vierneisel made four consecutive free throws as the Bears pulled away.
"Ayinde is a winner. In every game that goes into overtime or is close down the stretch, he has his fingerprints on it," Braun said. "He's willing to take big shots, he's willing to have the ball in his hands. It's nice to have a senior and a four-year starter like Ayinde who's been in the trenches."
Down by 12, the Bruins opened the second half with a scoring burst nearly identical to the one Cal generated in the first 20 minutes. Their 20-4 run helped them take the lead, 45-41, for the first time since the game's opening moments.
Collison had nine points, including a steal and fastbreak dunk, and Mbah a Moute added six.
The Bears struggled on 1-of-8 field-goal shooting against UCLA's increased defensive pressure.
Mostly though, the Bruins went to the line as Cal was called for 10 fouls in 8 1/2 minutes after having six in the first half. The Bruins were only 7-of-17 from the line in that stretch.
Neither team led by more than four points over the final 8 1/2 minutes of regulation.
Ubaka's 3-pointer went in as the shot clock expired, putting Cal ahead 56-53. The Bruins scored six straight points for a 59-56 lead before Ubaka's two straight baskets ensured overtime.
The Bears outscored UCLA 23-5 in the first half for a 16-point lead. Afflalo had zero points and three fouls, while Collison was scoreless with five of UCLA's 11 turnovers.