Sunday, 18 February 2018 15:47

Bruins Sweep Homestand

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UCLA Huddle OUIt wasn’t easy. It was a game of highs and lows. It took an overtime to achieve, but UCLA (19-8, 10-5) was able to secure a sweep for their last homestand of the season over an upset-minded gritty Oregon (17-10, 7-7) team, 86-78.

“Obviously, we’re really proud of our guys,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “I thought they really battled. It was a typical game that we have with Oregon, a typical game that Dana (Altman) and I have had over our careers. It’s always hard-fought, and the flow of the games come and go. Different teams make different runs. I just thought we handled it.

“We had major foul trouble and played the first half without Aaron (Holiday) and then built an 11-point lead but had to take him out with four fouls with about 11 minutes to go. He did a tremendous job playing the last seven minutes with four fouls. He’s just a special player. He makes play after play.

“Tom (Welsh) for his entire career just gives you so much consistency. Again tonight 14 (points) and 14 (rebound), a couple of assists, a few blocks.

“I thought Prince (Ali) really gave us a big lift off the bench that was much needed. And I thought Kris Wilkes did some really good things with his length. I thought he was really good in a lot of ways.

“Just a good, gritty win. We separated ourselves by a couple games now from other teams, so that’s good.”

Not only does the victory set up the all-important last road trip of the season, but it was also a fitting way to say goodbye to the seniors who meant so much to the program.

Thomas Welsh was asked after the game what it was like to get a win for his last home game as a Bruin.

“I really can’t put it into words,” Welsh said. “My time here has been a dream come true. It’s been more than I could’ve asked for. To be able to finish like that with a win, with my family all here, it really doesn’t get any better than that. I’m so grateful to the UCLA family and everything all the people here have done. It’s just been incredible, really.”

Holiday and Welsh led the way for the Bruins. Holiday led all scorers with 29 points. Welsh recorded his 16th double-double of the season scoring 14 points, including a huge three-pointer, which would ultimately be his last made shot on Pauley Pavilion as a Bruin. Welsh also had 14 boards.

“It’s special,” Welsh said. “To have that last shot be a made three in overtime at Pauley—it’s pretty dang special. It’s going to be something I remember for a very, very long time. It’s just really awesome.”

Kris Wilkes went for 19 points and Prince Ali was solid off the bench adding 11 to help the Bruins get the win.

Now the Bruins hit the road for the final three games of the regular season and are within one game of the magical 20 victories, an almost prerequisite if a team gets selected to participate in March Madness.

It’s not going to be easy as the first two games on the road will be going to the mountain schools where the air is thin and then the final game will be against USC at Galen Center.

The Bruins will tipoff against Utah this coming Thursday at 6:00 PM PST and the contest will be televised by ESPN. Then UCLA will head to Boulder for a rare Sunday contest against Colorado. Tipoff will be 1:00 PM PST and will be televised by ESPNU.

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