Dec 15, 2001
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Dan Gadzuric's last-minute contributions on offense and defense helped No. 17 UCLA avoid another upset at the hands of a Los Angeles-area school.
Gadzuric, who missed an easy two-handed dunk in the first half, made a similar one with 1:04 remaining, then altered Jerry Green's one-handed runner in the closing seconds to preserve a 75-74 victory over UC Irvine on Saturday.
After Rico Hines switched off Green, the 6-foot-11 Gadzuric moved in on the 6-3 Irvine star, who forced an off-balance shot.
"I was just trying to play real tight defense and not let him at least have an easy shot," said Gadzuric, who had seven points and three rebounds in 29 minutes.
"Coach called a high screen for me," Green said. "I was supposed to penetrate and take the shot. We could have been blown out, but we were in it all the way to the end."
For the third time this season, UCLA ran into trouble at Pauley Pavilion against a local school. The Bruins were upset by Pepperdine on Nov. 28, then struggled to beat UC Riverside 65-50 on Dec. 5.
The Anteaters shot 75 percent in the second half and outrebounded the Bruins 30-23.
"Teams we're supposed to beat by a fair margin, we don't," said Jason Kapono, who scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, including 13 straight over the final 6:31.
"Kapono made some really big All-America shots," Irvine coach Pat Douglass said. "We were all over him and he still hit the 3s."
Kapono's offense, which has been slow lately in the first half of games, got the Bruins (6-2) back in the game after trailing most of the second half.
"Coach said shoot first," he said. "In the first half, I was playing more pass and dribble and that led to my poor exhibition. My first thing is to shoot. That's my biggest strength."
Billy Knight added 21 points and freshman Dijon Thompson had a career-high 14 points and seven rebounds for the Bruins, who played without starter Matt Barnes. He's nursing a sore left ankle after stepping on Gadzuric's foot at practice Thursday.
Irvine (5-4) was led by Green with 27 points and Stanislav Zuzak added a career-high 22, including two 3-pointers in a 10-0 run that gave the Anteaters their largest lead, 52-45, with 12:56 left.
Trailing 75-74, Zuzak missed a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left, but the Anteaters retained possession when Gadzuric tipped the ball out of bounds.
After a timeout, Green tossed up the runner that missed to let UCLA escape. Green committed two of his eight turnovers in the final five minutes, when the teams were either tied or traded one-point leads.
"I was open for a 3, but I don't think Jerry could see me from where he was. The last play was made for him," Zuzak said.
The game was similar to last season, when the Bruins trailed by four points at halftime before rallying for a 65-60 victory. This time, they were down two at halftime, then scored eight in a row to go up 35-31.
"We have been in this kind of situation many times before, and we usually come out on top," Irvine's Adam Parada said. "I definitely felt we had a good shot at winning."
Irvine put together a 20-14 run to go up 62-56 with 8:16 remaining, before Kapono singlehandedly took over, scoring the 13 straight points, including two 3-pointers, for a 71-70 lead with 2:55 left.
"It was a great gun show. Everyone was scoring," he said. "I'm glad we got out of here with a win."