Thursday, November 16, 2017

UCLA Defeats Central Arkansas in Overtime, 106-101


LOS ANGELES – No. 18 UCLA made key free throws in overtime and survived 18 three-pointers by Central Arkansas to secure a 106-101 victory in the Bruins' regular-season home opener in Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday.

Junior Aaron Holiday led UCLA with a career-high 24 points, and freshman Kris Wilkes recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Wilkes scored seven points in overtime.

Senior Thomas Welsh also had a double-double, totaling 16 points and 11 rebounds for UCLA (2-0).

Central Arkansas (1-2) took a one-point lead, 86-85, with 3.7 seconds to play in regulation when Jordan Howard hit a three-pointer in front of his bench. But after a timeout, the Bruins were able to get the ball up the court, where Jaylen Hands grabbed it and was fouled on the shot attempt with 1.3 seconds remaining.

Hands missed the first free throw but made the second to send the game into overtime.

In the overtime period, UCLA made 9 of 10 free throws to secure the victory after having shot just 50 percent from the line through the first two halves. Holiday made five free throws while Wilkes and Alex Olesinski each hit two.

"Central Arkansas came in here and gave us their best shot," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. "For our guys not to succumb to 'our legs are tired' and 'we were on a long trip' would have been the easy way out. And I appreciate how Thomas and Aaron are such great leaders. They kept everyone together."

The beginning of the first half was all UCLA, as the Bruins ran off to a 17-point lead at the 8:20, 34-17, but Central Arkansas kept chipping away and took its first lead, 44-43, with 1:01 to play on a three-pointer by Deandre Jones. The Bruins ended the half with a tip-in by Chris Smith at the buzzer to take a 47-45 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

Central Arkansas took a six-point lead, 57-51, early in the second half before the Bruins ran off 11 unanswered to regain the lead, 62-57, with 11:24 to play. The Bears' three-point shooting kept them within striking distance. UCLA held a five-point lead with 51 seconds to play before Hayden Koval hit a three-pointer to close to within two, 82-80. UCA pressed and forced a turnover, but Wilkes made a huge block on Darraja Parnell's layup attempt.

Olesinski followed with two free throws to give UCLA a four-point lead (84-83), but Thatch Unruh hit a quick three-pointer with 21 seconds remaining to close to within one. Holiday made just one of two free throws, giving UCLA a two-point lead at 85-83. Howard's three-pointer made him the hero until Hands' free throw forced overtime.

The visiting Bears started the extra period with momentum after Howard hit a three-pointer while being fouled by Hands, and Central Arkansas quickly raced ahead by a 90-86 margin. The Bears' lead evaporated almost immediately after a Welsh jumper and a Wilkes layup and three-pointer.

After Prince Ali had a steal and fast-break dunk, the Bruins suddenly had seven points in 80 seconds and a 95-90 lead. But the Bears' perimeter shooting kept them in it. The Bears would foul the Bruins and then come back to hit a three-pointer in two-straight possessions, but their magic ran out after a pair of Holiday free throws gave UCLA a 105-101 advantage.

UCA's Mathieu Kamba missed a jumper with 12 seconds to play, and Holiday was fouled on the rebound. He made one of two foul shots, and Howard missed a three-pointer with three seconds left. Olesinski grabbed the rebound to end the game.

Six UCLA players scored in double figures – Holiday (24), Wilkes (20) and Welsh (16), Ali (12), Olesinski (10) and Hands (10).

Central Arkansas set or tied two Pauley Pavilion records – most three-point field goals made by a team (18) and most three-point field goal attempts (35). Howard tied a UCLA opponent record with eight three-point field goals made.

The Bruins will host South Carolina State on Friday evening at 6 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion.

The Box

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