Wednesday, 20 December 2017 15:40

Bruins Hold Onto Victory

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Welsh T USDUCLA (8-3) was able to get back on the winning track, but it wasn’t easy. The Bruins were able to hang on 85-82 in a game that was simply a roller coaster.

UCLA made things hard for themselves by going through two major scoring droughts one in the first-half that saw the Bruins stuck on 12 for six minutes. An inspired and hustling South Dakota team were able to take a 19-12 lead during that time-span. The Bruins were able to battle back and only trailed 36-33 at the half.

The Bruins started out fast in the second-half and were playing flawless basketball. UCLA held a commanding lead of 78-54 with 5:01 left to play. That’s when the roof almost caved in on the Bruins.

UCLA ended up being outscored 28-7 to make the game way too close. Clinging to a three-point lead there were 1.5 seconds left to play. The way this was being played you knew it couldn’t easy.

With Thomas Welsh, who had a superb game, putting pressure on the in-bound pass ended up getting a piece of the ball and that was enough to let the clock run out.

Tough games are never easy. The refs didn’t see Welsh tick the ball and demanded to put 1.5 back on the clock, but the refs took six minutes looking at the replay before ruling that Welsh did indeed touch the ball awarding the Bruins the hard-fought victory.

“I think one of the hardest things to do in sports is when you’ve lost, and we’ve lost a couple, is to win again,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “I’m a huge boxing fan when you get knocked out the hardest thing to do is to figure out a way to win.

“When you lose, and we’ve lost for two weeks even though it’s only been for two games but we haven’t won a game in two weeks, the hardest thing to do is to learn how to win again.

“I was really pleased with the first 36 minutes. The first 20 we didn’t shoot particularly well. The only thing we talked about at half was that we were being outrebounded by a team that shouldn’t be out rebounding us. But we had more assists than turnovers, we had six turnovers at half, playing well and getting good shots. We had great shots we just weren’t making them. If we get good shots and share the ball then we have to live with that. Second half they were going in.

“Start of the second half and all the way to the final four minutes of the half it was beautiful basketball. It was probably the best basketball we’ve played for quite some time.

“Now there are four minutes to go in the game and our defensive efficiency is under 85 and that’s great. Our offensive efficiency is over 110 and that’s great. We had 22 assists and nine turnovers at that time. So the game was played very well.

“Then the lesson that our guys learned was that they decided it was time to get ours now. We talked about ball movement, playing off one another and unselfishness and I thought that for 36 minutes. I thought the last four minutes were selfish. It wasn’t very smart basketball. We got beat 24-7 in those last four minutes with no assists and four turnovers.

“It’s a great teaching point for me, it’s not the way I want to teach because it was a game we had in hand, but it also proves the point about what we look like when we are unselfish playing together versus what we look like when we are selfish and not playing as a team. I think that was a valuable lesson for our guys tonight.”

When things were going right for the Bruins they were sharing the ball and that allowed the UCLA have five players score in double-figures. Led by Welsh, who his seventh double-double of the season scoring team-highs in points with 19, rebounds with 11 and blocked shots with three. He also had four assists.

Aaron Holiday scored 15 points and had a team-high, five assists. GG Golomon scored 12 points, Jaylen Hands added 12 points off the bench and Chris Smith chipped in 10 points off the bench.

The Bruins will try to keep the good times rolling when they head to New Orleans to take on the No. 7 rated Kentucky Wildcats UCLA will take on Saturday, Dec. 23, in the annual CBS Sports Classic. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM PST and the game will be nationally televised on CBS.

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