Friday, March 10, 2017

Pac12 Tourney: Another tough out vs USC. No. 3 UCLA escapes with a 76-74 win.

from UCLA Athletics

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Isaac Hamilton scored a game-high 22 points to lead No. 3 UCLA past USC, 76-74, before 18,153 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday.

UCLA secured its 10th consecutive victory, improving to 29-3 overall. The Bruins advanced to the tournament's semifinal round and will face No. 7 Arizona on Friday evening.

Thomas Welsh registered his ninth double-double, logging 11 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. Hamilton, with his 22-point effort, moved into a tie for the No. 30 spot on UCLA's all-time scoring list (1,365 career points, tied with Rod Foster).

TJ Leaf totaled 14 points and six rebounds while Lonzo Ball finished with 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

"We didn't have too many tough shooting nights [this season], and tonight was one of those," said UCLA head coach Steve Alford, who saw his team shoot 41.2 percent from the field. "We were able to get enough stops and we held them to 38 percent shooting. So, I thought we did some good things and got some stops."

UCLA led by at least 13 points in each half, but USC (24-9) battled back to cut the Bruins' cushion to two points by halftime and to just one point late in the second half.

Coach Alford, Postgame Interview

Jordan McLaughlin scored a team-high 18 points for the Trojans, while Elijah Stewart had 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Thursday night's contest marked the third consecutive season in which UCLA opened its Pac-12 Tournament schedule against USC. Two years ago, the Bruins cruised past USC in a quarterfinal matchup, and last season, the Trojans defeated UCLA in a first-round contest.

The Bruins extended their early advantage to 32-18 on a three-pointer by Bryce Alford with five minutes to play before halftime. USC immediately followed with a 9-0 scoring run, reducing UCLA's cushion to 32-27 at the 2:40 mark before back-to-back three-pointers from Ball gave the Bruins a 38-27 advantage.

USC cut UCLA's margin to 38-35 by halftime, as Jonah Mathews nailed a three-pointer with 53 seconds to go after McLaughlin sank a pair of free throws.

In the second half, UCLA led the Trojans 38-37 before using a 12-0 scoring run to push its margin to 50-37 at the 15:37 mark. The Bruins led by double-digits with as few as 8:45 to play in regulation before the Trojans chipped away.

Consecutive drives to the hoop, and ensuing layups, by McLaughlin at the 7:14 and 6:48 marks cut UCLA's lead to 65-60. The Bruins pushed their lead back to seven points, at 71-64, after Leaf made two free throws.

Trailing 74-69 with 2:08 to play, USC got to the free throw line and Metu made a pair of free throws. The Bruins held strong on defense, holding the Trojans scoreless until the game's final six seconds.

Alford made both his free throw shots with 13 seconds to play, giving UCLA a 76-71 advantage.

Bennie Boatwright made a three-point shot with six seconds to play before UCLA was able to run out the clock on its next possession

Friday's semifinal contest against Arizona will mark the fifth time in the last six seasons in which UCLA will take on the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Tournament. UCLA and Arizona have gone 2-2 against each other in the previous four meetings (2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015).

UCLA's game on Friday will begin at approximately 8:30 p.m. (PT) at T-Mobile Arena. The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN. Fans in the Los Angeles area can listen to the radio broadcast on AM 1150.

Game Notes: Senior guard Bryce Alford set UCLA's career record for most made three-pointers when he nailed his 318th career three-pointer at the 5:00 mark in the first half ... Alford now has 319 career three-pointers, the fourth-best mark in the history of the Pac-12 ... freshman guard Lonzo Ball finished with seven assists, pushing his season total to 248 (ranks second on UCLA's single-season assists list behind Larry Drew II's total of 256, set in 2012-13) ... in addition, Ball's single-season total of 248 assists is tied for the fourth-highest total in Pac-12 history.

The Box

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