Topsy Turvy Night For Bruins

Dec 28, 2001

Box Score

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - UCLA went on another wild ride against a team from the Ivy League. This time, the Bruins were still standing at the end.

Jason Kapono scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half when No. 15 UCLA blew a 22-point lead before escaping with a 64-55 victory over Columbia on Thursday night.

"That's our trademark, play poorly in the first half and play with fire in the first 10 minutes of the second half," Kapono said. "That's something we have to get better at, closing out games."

The Bruins (8-2) eventually won their sixth in a row, but not before letting a rout turn into a thriller.

They hadn't played a school from the Ivy League since losing to Princeton in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament. Just like the Tigers, Columbia made its share of backdoor plays.

"It's very similar to playing Princeton," said UCLA's Steve Lavin, who was an assistant during the '96 tournament. "As a result, they're going to stay around in a lot of games and beat people."

The Lions (7-5) hardly looked like a team in the 10th day of a 15-day road trip covering more than 11,000 miles. They hustled after loose balls and put on a 3-point shooting display over the final 8{ minutes.

"We were never intimidated being here playing UCLA," Columbia center Chris Wiedemann said. "We felt we had the intensity to win the game and we never lost our intensity. We just made too many mistakes."

Trailing by 22 points, the Lions outscored UCLA 24-7 to pull to 57-52 with 2:58 remaining. Treg Duerksen scored a season-high 21 points, including five in the second half, to spark Columbia. He had seven 3s in the game to tie the school record.

"I worked very hard on my shooting the last few days, so when the 3s started going in, I just kept throwing them up," Duerksen said. "Our problem was that we dug too big of a hole for ourselves and we couldn't find a way out."

Wiedemann's tip-in that would have made it 59-57 with 52 seconds left was no good when teammate Joe Case was called for basket interference.

"I don't think I can get fined out here, so I'll tell you that the call probably determined the outcome of the game," Columbia coach Armond Hill said. "It was a terrible call at a terrible time. I don't know how the those guys will sleep tonight."

After Matt Barnes made one of two free throws to keep UCLA ahead 60-55, Craig Austin's 3-point attempt went in and out with 25 seconds left.

Kapono hit four consecutive free throws to put the game away.

"We really played well for 30 minutes and for the last 10 we played very poorly," Lavin said. "We went into a comedy of errors."

T.J. Cummings led the Bruins with 18 points and Billy Knight added 14. Kapono also had 11 rebounds.

Although freshman Cedric Bozeman has been cleared to play limited minutes, he remained in street clothes on the bench and Kapono handled the point guard duties.

That limited Kapono offensively in the first half, when he took just two shots and made one. He came out strong to start the final 20 minutes, scoring five points in UCLA's 9-0 run that gave the Bruins a 40-21 lead.

Kapono, a junior, hit a 3-pointer in the run to set the school record with 198, breaking Tracy Murray's mark of 197 set from 1990-92.

Kapono set up a dunk by Barnes with an alley-oop pass and the Bruins were up by 21 points.

"It's nice to hold that record, but first things first, I was glad to get that win," Kapono said.

UCLA's starters went to the bench with a 22-point lead and the Lions went to work. Even before Columbia drew within five with 2:58 remaining, most of the Bruins' regulars were forced back in to salvage the victory.

"We're starting to find our groove," Kapono said. "The only thing is we can't put two halves together."

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