Saturday, September 10, 2016

Men's Basketball Edged by Melbourne United, 89-84

game videos c/o the melbourne united basketball club 

1st quarter
sr Isaac Hamilton restrains So aaron holiday from further jawin' at the 15:55 mark







Senior guards Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford each scored a team-leading 18 points.

MELBOURNE, Australia – Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton each scored 18 points as the UCLA men's basketball team fell to Melbourne United, 89-84, before a capacity crowd at State Basketball Centre on Saturday evening.

Playing their second of three games during a 10-day offseason trip to Australia, the Bruins led by a 40-37 margin at halftime. Melbourne United outscored UCLA by a 31-20 margin in the third quarter, and the Bruins were unable to tie the contest in the final period.

Melbourne United's David Barlow and Owen Odigie each scored a team-leading 16 points.

Aaron Holiday finished with 16 points and Thomas Welsh totaled 10, rounding out UCLA's list of double-figure scorers. Hamilton dished a team-leading five assists and scored 16 of his 18 points before halftime.

Lonzo Ball scored eight points and led the Bruins with 13 rebounds, including five offensive boards.

Saturday's game featured an opponent with significantly more basketball experience than the Bruins' Tuesday night opponent, Sydney University. Melbourne United is one of eight professional Australian basketball teams in the National Basketball League, or NBL. UCLA will face another NBL team, the Brisbane Bullets, on Monday evening.

After having cruised to a 123-76 win in Sydney, UCLA was locked in a see-saw battle with Melbourne United on Saturday. The game featured 10 lead changes, including three in the third quarter.

"This was good for us, and it's a big reason why we take trips like this," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. "We are probably going to get a similar challenge when we're in Brisbane. Our players are going up against pros, against grown men."

Hamilton had an impressive first half for the Bruins, a half that ended with the senior guard nailing a buzzer-beating floater to put UCLA ahead, 40-37. His shot pushed his first-half point total to 16 points and helped the Bruins finish the second quarter on a 17-3 scoring run through the final five minutes.

For Hamilton, the team is still coming together. But he says he's been encouraged by what he has seen through the first two games.

"This feels like a new team," said Hamilton, who averaged a team-leading 16.8 points per game last season. "There are going to be mistakes, some turnovers. That type of stuff is going to happen. But overall, I thought that we played pretty well for this being our second game playing together."

Melbourne United claimed the lead for good midway through the third quarter. Trailing 53-48 with 7:05 to play in the period, Melbourne United used an 11-5 run to lead 59-58 at the 3:53 mark. The host team closed the third quarter with a 9-2 scoring run to push its advantage to 68-60.

UCLA reduced the gap to 78-76 with 4:01 remaining. Melbourne United saw its 76-66 cushion reduced to just two points midway through the final period. Six of the Bruins' 10 points during a span of 2:25 were scored by Holiday, including a fastbreak dunk that electrified the crowd.

Melbourne United followed with a layup before Nate Tomlinsion's 3-pointer put the host team ahead 83-76. From that point, the Bruins never closed the gap to fewer than five points.

Bryce Alford had a strong shooting performance after having opened the game making just one of six shots. The senior from Albuquerque, N.M., finished the game having made 6 of 12 total shots. He went 6-for-9 from 3-point range.

"Mentally, I'm always the same," he said. "With the experiences that I've had here the last three seasons, I have a strong mental game. I don't worry about that. I can start a game missing who knows how many shots, but I have the confidence in myself that I'm going to end up hitting shots. It's just about finding good ones."

UCLA twice overcame modest first-half deficits. Down 10-4 in the first four minutes, the Bruins clawed back, taking a 14-12 lead on a basket from Hamilton. Minutes later, a jump shot from Welsh put the Bruins ahead 22-19 before Melbourne United used a 13-0 run to secure a 32-22 lead.

Alford helped ignite the team's next rally, hitting a 3-pointer to cut an 11-point deficit to 34-26 with 4:54 left in the second quarter. Consecutive baskets from Ball, Welsh and Hamilton trimmed Melbourne United's lead to 35-33.

Asked about the production from his two seniors guards, Coach Alford pointed to their past experience playing a pivotal role.

"Isaac did a good job of getting us going early," Coach Alford said. "He and Bryce can really score the basketball, and need to have that. They are veteran guards. Those guys have to play at a high level, and I thought tonight they did that."

Up next for UCLA is a Sunday morning flight to Brisbane. The Bruins will head to Gold Coast for the final three days of their trip in Australia. UCLA returns to the court against the Brisbane Bullets on Monday, Aug. 29. Game time is 7 p.m. (local time) at Logan Metro Indoor Sports Center (2 a.m. PT in Los Angeles).

For the latest updates about the Bruins' travels, follow the team's official social media channels in addition to Updates will be provided on Twitter (@UCLAMBB), Instagram (UCLAMBB), Facebook ( and Snapchat (uclambb).

For all the reports from Australia 2016 go to link. 

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