UCLA edged Northwestern 68-63 to advance to the Sweet 16
Sacramento, California. The best news came for UCLA after the Bruins finished with a second-round win over Northwestern.
Head guard David Singleton didn’t break his ankle when he went down with an injury late in UCLA’s 69-63 win over Northwestern Saturday night, giving the Bruins hope that he might be able to return when they play the Sweet 16 next week.
“I knew it wasn’t that bad,” said Singleton, who was on the court groaning for a few minutes before being helped to the locker room. “I broke my foot before. I didn’t feel it crack or anything. It hurt right now. I’m fine. I’ll just go with my trainer.”
Coach Mick Cronin said the injury brought back bad memories from two decades ago when he was an assistant at Cincinnati and star Kenyon Martin broke his right leg before a tournament.
Now he’s hoping to bring Singleton back into a thin lineup already missing injured defensive stopper Jaylen Clark.
“I was reminiscing when I had a head full of hair in the spring of 2000 I was running there and Kenyon Martin was playing there,” Cronin said. “Looks like he’s badly sprained. … I’m glad he didn’t break his ankle. It’s been crazy for us here lately.”
Jaime Jacques Jr. Scored 24 points and UCLA held off a second-half push from Northwestern to get back into the Sweet 16.
The second-seeded Bruins (31-5) turned up their defense late on, holding off the seventh-seeded Wildcats to a 1-for-12 shooting during a key stretch at the end of the game to seal the win.
“We started to get up, shift with them, and bring the pressure up again like in the first half,” said Jacques. “I think we got away from it (early) in the second half with just a light substitution. I think we picked it up a lot more than that.”
UCLA reached the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive time for the first time in 15 years. The winning Bruins will play Sunday’s game between Gonzaga and TCU in the Western Region semifinals in Las Vegas, Thursday night.
Amari Bailey added 14 points and Tiger Campbell added 12 for UCLA.
Boo Buie scored 18 points to lead Northwestern (22-12), Matthew Nicholson added 17 and Chase Odig scored all 16 of his points in the second half.
“I wasn’t surprised by the way we played in the second half because that’s what those guys were about, and that’s what our team has been all year,” said head coach Chris Collins. “We have a fighter’s spirit. … I couldn’t be prouder of my comrades.”
The Wildcats finished their second trip to the championship the same way they had six years earlier, losing in the second round.
They put up a good fight against the more tested Bruins in the tournament and even had a chance to walk off the field late in the game.
The decisive moment came in the final two minutes when Adem Bona blocked an Audige drive, sending UCLA out of transition. David Singleton hit a 3-pointer that put the Bruins ahead 62-56 with 1:50 to play.
UCLA took control of the game early and got the big lead by neutralizing Northwestern’s high-scoring backcourt from Buie and Audige and knocking Jaquez out of transition.
Buie finally made his first basket of the game on a drive just before the buzzer to cut UCLA’s lead to 35-25 at the break.
Audige gained a lead in the second half with 14 points in the first eight minutes. The Wildcats tied the game at 45 when Buie was scored with a basket on a field goal call midway through the half.
But they were unable to complete the deal.
“That’s what we wanted, an eight-minute fight,” said Collins. “Give UCLA credit. Every time we run they make big plays.”
The Big Picture
Northwestern: The Wildcats followed up their championship debut with losing records in the next five seasons. Collins put them back in second place in the Big Ten in the regular season and is now looking to build from there.
UCLA: Bona is back after missing the last two games with a left shoulder injury. The injury aggravated on Dunk in the second half and he went to the bench immediately but got back into the game and stopped shorts. It will be essential for him next weekend.
UCLA is two wins shy of its 20th Final Four appearance.
UCLA edged Northwestern 68-63 to advance to the Sweet 16 appeared in the original NBCSports.com