I’m willing to bet anything right now that UCLA fans were exclaiming this last night, and are saying it today:
“Thank God for Larry Drew!”
After all, it was the Bruin point guard and North Carolina transfer’s 17-foot jump shot with pretty much no time remaining that beat Washington in Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday night, 59-57, before 8,075 fans and a student section that, if they were allowed, may well have stormed the court.
Like many of UCLA’s recent games, although the game was nip-and-tuck the whole way with a 28-28 tie at halftime, it wasn’t as if the Bruins played lights out as they shot under 40% for the third consecutive game and were beaten up on the boards once again, the Huskies outrebounding them 46-36.
Travis Wear and Jordan Adams contributed heavily to UCLA’s poor shoting, Wear making only two of nine shots (though he did well at the free throw line in hitting five of six) while Adams did worse as he missed nine of his 11 attempted shots.
Shabazz Muhammad’s 22 points led the team as he was the only Bruin in double figures for the night. He was calling for the ball on the game’s last possession but as Drew commemted afterwards, “I just saw the rim,” during those last ten seconds, which considering the result was perfectly OK with Muhammad.
The senior, who was appropriately mobbed by his teammates when the ball went through the hoop, finished with nine very important points and six assists.
The win broke a two-game losing streak, did quite a bit to get the nasty taste of the loss to USC out of their mouths, and left Ben Howland’s team at 7-3 in what has become a wide-open Pac-12 conference race (17-6 overall), still a game behind first place Arizona.
On one hand, being that UCLA had yet another bad shooting night and were beat up on the boards once again, this can clearly be classified as an ugly win.
On the other hand, as the cliche goes, “A win is a win”.
And it was a win that the Bruins desperately needed as they showed much heart, fortitude, and resilience to get the job done, for which they should be given credit.
The big test now is whether or not they can complete the sweep of the Washington schools, which they sorely need, as a scrappy Washington State team comes from the Palouse (and a four-point loss to USC) to Pauley on Saturday night.
Washinton State Cougars, Pauley Pavilion – Saturday, February 9, 7:00 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks