Feb 20, 2003
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - UCLA finally caught the breaks that have eluded the Bruins all season.
Dijon Thompson rebounded his own missed shot and scored with 6 seconds remaining in overtime to lift UCLA over No. 18 California 76-75 Thursday night, snapping the Bruins' 10-game Pac-10 losing streak.
"It's guarded optimism, but hopefully we took a step in the right direction," UCLA coach Steve Lavin said. "The kids worked hard, had faith, kept their heads up, battled through and we were able to finally pull out a win."
After Amit Tamir took Cal's last shot and missed an open 12-footer, the Bruins grabbed the rebound as time ran out. Students mobbed the court in celebration of the Bruins ending an eight-game losing streak at Pauley Pavilion, where they played the 600th game in arena history.
"We feel like we let a golden opportunity slip away," said Brian Wethers, who led Cal with 21 points but didn't score in overtime. "It's always tough to play here and they came out and played their hearts off."
It was UCLA's first win at home since beating Portland on Dec. 14.
"It's a big game, but what's even bigger is that we won at home," said Ray Young, who started in place of injured guard Cedric Bozeman. "Usually we don't play as well at home. We don't give the fans a reason to cheer for us. Hopefully we can keep putting out the effort and keep winning a couple more games."
Thompson had 20 points and 11 rebounds for UCLA, which trailed 75-72 early in overtime after Joe Shipp hit a 3-pointer for Cal. Jason Kapono, who was held to 10 points, hit two free throws to pull the Bruins within one.
Young, who had 18 points, got fouled with 37 seconds left, but missed both as the crowd groaned loudly.
"I was killing myself," he said. "I'm usually a better free-throw shooter. That's typically not me, especially at the end of the game. Dijon was lucky enough, bright enough to pursue the ball and hit the last shot."
Thompson put up a shot that went in and out with 10 seconds left, and in a mad scramble he grabbed his own rebound and scored the game-winning jumper. He declined to talk after the game in keeping with his personal boycott of the media.
"I was just trying to get the ball. I tipped it maybe two, maybe three times," said Young, who was involved in the wild finish. "But I kept tipping it, I couldn't grab it. Everything was like a white flash."
The Bruins (6-16, 3-10 Pac-10) shot 56 percent in the second half, when they blew all of a 13-point lead.
Shipp added 18 for the Bears (18-5, 11-3), who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
"All we had to do was grab one rebound down the stretch and we would have won. Instead we tipped the ball," Cal coach Ben Braun said. "We did that a couple of times. You tip the ball on the offensive end, but you grab the ball on the defensive end."
UCLA's hot shooting continued at the start of the second half. The Bruins made their first eight shots, including three 3-pointers by Thompson and Young, for a 57-44 lead. Kapono's missed 3-pointer at 14:52 finally ended the shooting streak.
The Bears regained their scoring behind Shipp and Wethers, who combined for 14 of Cal's next 19 points as the Bears pulled to 67-63 with 7:11 remaining. Shipp, Wethers and Richard Midgley hit 3-pointers in the spurt that saw the Bruins cool off and commit turnovers.
Ryan Walcott turned the ball over, leading to Wethers' inside basket, then Kapono fouled Wethers on a 3-point attempt. Wethers made two of three to tie the game at 67 with 4:24 left.
The teams traded baskets and were tied at 69. T.J. Cummings' pass inside got tipped by Wethers for a turnover, but Tamir missed. Young got fouled and made one of two to put UCLA ahead 70-69 with 1:39 left.
Tamir hit a 3-pointer to give Cal its first lead of the second half, 72-70. Cummings scored off a rebound of Kapono's missed 3-pointer to tie it with 32 seconds remaining. Wethers missed a bank shot, then Kapono put up a running 3-point attempt that Thompson barely missed tipping in before the regulation buzzer. Kapono didn't score in the second half.