Nov. 11, 2011
LOS ANGELES - The No. 17 UCLA men's basketball team fell to Loyola Marymount, 69-58, on Friday night in both teams' season-opening game, the Bruins' first in their temporary home at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
"It's not what any of us expected," said David Wear, who was making his UCLA debut along with his twin brother Travis after sitting out last season as a result of transferring from North Carolina. "We got all the tools and talent on offense. We just got to be more patient."
LMU (1-0) received a game-high 23 points from Ashley Hamilton and netted 21 points from Anthony Ireland. The visiting Lions nailed 10-of-15 three-point shots, limiting UCLA (0-1) to just 2-of-15 shots from behind the three-point arc.
Reeves Nelson and David Wear each scored 13 points for UCLA. Travis Wear totaled 11 points, rounding out the Bruins' list of double-digit scorers. Nelson and Travis Wear each grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
The Lions led by one point at halftime and controlled most of the second half, building their first double-digit lead, 53-42, on a pair of free throws by Hamilton that capped a 12-0 run.
"They were able to drive us all night. We kept getting beat on penetration," coach Ben Howland said. "We made a lot of defensive breakdown mistakes."
UCLA reduced LMU's lead to five points twice in the final seven minutes. A layup by Nelson trimmed the Lions' margin to 55-50. After LMU's Godwin Okonji scored a basket to put LMU ahead 60-52, the Bruins responded with a layup from Joshua Smith followed by a free throw from Lazeric Jones, cutting the Lions' cushion to 60-55.
LMU's lead never fell under 10 points after Hamilton nailed a three-point basket in the game's final minutes.
"That was a very disappointing way to start our season off," said Howland, whose only other loss in an opener during his UCLA tenure was to Cal State Fullerton in 2009. "It's a bad loss for us. I've been saying it, we have a long way to go."
The last time UCLA dropped its season-opening contest was in a double-overtime game against Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 16, 2009. The Titans downed UCLA, 68-65, in that meeting.
UCLA returns to action against Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday evening at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The game tips off at 8:07 p.m.