UCLA falls to Cal in overtime heartbreaker, 76-72

BERKELEY –

UCLA head coach Ben Howland waved his head in disgust and then smacked his right hand directly on his forehead, his shoulders collapsing.

The Bruins chased Cal around the court all night, particularly spectacular guard Jorge Gutierrez, and couldn’t catch the Bears.

Right when they needed to catch up the most – simply fouling a Bear, any Bear, as the dwindling seconds dripped off the clock in overtime – they couldn’t. With a two-point lead, Cal dribbled out the clock after a Jerime Anderson layup, UCLA was not able to foul until just .7 seconds remained, and Gutierrez knocked down two free throws to give the Bears the 76-72 win at Haas Pavilion.
Howland was shaken to the core, simply heartbroken.

For all of UCLA’s guts and heart down the stretch in Sunday’s matchup at Cal to end like…this?

The Bruins were quiet and morbid after coming all the way back from a 13-point deficit but ultimately losing for the first time in seven games.

“We felt like it was meant to be for us to win that game,” UCLA sophomore small forward Tyler Honeycutt said. “For us to lose like that probably hurts more.”

Perhaps it’s not a surprise Gutierrez outran the Bruins; he left them in his dust all night.

The Chihuahua, Mexico, product played like a Great Dane, scurrying all over the court for the Bears, weaving his way into traffic, darting into the post, leading all scorers with 34 points – the most UCLA has allowed all season – including nine points in overtime.

“Their coach found something that was working for them and they exploited it all night,” said UCLA junior guard Malcolm Lee, who led the team with 19 points. “They were running him off of picks, high pick and rolls, doubles. Nothing broke, why fix it? … We just have to get back in the lab and basically fix this problem.”

But Gutierrez’ biggest play was not one of his brilliant coast-to-coast layups, or his conniving thievery or even his outside game.

With 14 seconds left in overtime and no options at the top of the key, Gutierrez delivered a bullet to teammate Brandon Smith in the right corner for a wide-open 3-pointer, giving Cal an insurmountable four-point lead.

“I had a feeling I was going to get another three,” Smith said. “When (Gutierrez) drove I made sure I was ready to knock it down. When he passed it to me it wasn’t right in my shot pocket, and there was a guy coming out. I thought, ‘I am still going to stick this,’ and it went in.”

Forget four points in overtime: Given UCLA’s play for much of the first 22 minutes, it seemed Cal’s 13-point lead early in the second half would have been too much to overcome.

With 7:26 left in the first half, UCLA trailed 21-11, had seven turnovers and that vaunted balance that the Bruins highlight was out in full force: no player had more than two points.

It took a little time – and a couple of Honeycutt 3-pointers – but UCLA finally got into a zone.

Quite literally.

Howland, who maintained throughout the season that he would not switch from his standard man-to-man, made the change with Cal leading 37-31 and 14:30 left, and the Bruins took off.
“The zone stopped the bleeding a lot,” Lee said. “Although they were scoring in the zone, it was more like one out of three times, as opposed to scoring every time against the man. Zone is the reason we got back in the game.”

That, and one humongous Lee shot.

Lee hit a fading 26-foot 3-pointer as time expired, or more appropriately, after time expired, as the ball hit the front of the rim, the clock hit zero, and the ball dropped in.
The two teams certainly have a flair for the dramatic.

Last season, UCLA senior guard Michael Roll hit a 13-foot jumper with 1.9 seconds left to lift the Bruins to a 76-75 lead at Cal.

In the teams’ first matchup at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 21, sophomore forward Reeves Nelson tipped in a short Honeycutt jumper at the buzzer to give the Bruins an 86-84 win.
This one finally went Cal’s way, though, breaking a four-game losing streak and ending UCLA’s scorching streak, as the Bruins had won 10-of-11 and 16-of-19.

“When you get on a winning streak, you kind of forget about reality,” Lee said. “Basically this slaps us back to reality. ‘Yo, we’re still trying to fight to get into the tournament.’ When we were on the streak, everything was all good, we were feeling all gravy, ‘Yeah, we’re getting into the tournament.’ This kind of levels us. It gets us back down, and we have to start from square one again.”

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  • Larry

    Dang.

  • Boston Bruin

    As a UCLA Bruin fan and alumni since the Wooden era, I have to be honest and refute the headline. This wasn’t a heart breaking loss…the Men’s BB team served up a softball to Berkeley and they hit it!

    The heart breaking game was earlier in the day when a UCLA Woman’s BB team tried valiantly to keep up with a bigger, stronger deeper talented Stanford team…that was a heart breaker.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    I knew the Cal game wasn’t going to be easy and, well, it wasn’t.

    The negatives: We lost. Way too many turnovers early in the game and we just did not match Cal’s intensity. That set the tone for the first 25-30 minutes of the ball game and it eventually proved too difficult to overcome.

    The positives: Despite not playing our best basketball in the first two-thirds of the game, we never seemed to get flustered and kept plugging away with the belief we would get back in the game. Great contribution by the bench especially Brendan Lane to pick up some of the starters that did not play up to usual standards. In the last ten minutes we played with poise and grit to eventually claim the lead and the ball with under a minute to play.

    Unfortunately we were not able to convert on either of the last two possessions prior to Lee’s 3-point shot. I could live with the first possession where Jones missed an open shot in the lane, but the second possession was poor as Nelson drove into their center and basically got the ball stolen. Had we converted on either of these possessions, we would have had a chance to win the game with our defense. As Ernie Kent (former Oregon coach) said during his game commentary (at which he is extremely good), UCLA failed to exploit its offensive matchup of Honeycutt against Gutierrez. I’m not sure if UCLA has set plays designed for specific players, but this was one situation where we could have greatly benefited by running a play for Honeycutt. Yes we sent the game into OT on a great shot by Lee, but not putting the game away earlier was a missed opportunity.

    Mike Montgomery is a great coach and he kept running the high pick and roll because we could not defend it against Gutierrez (who played unbelievably well yesterday). Lee should probably have been switched over to match up against Gutierrez a little earlier in regulation, but I liked the fact CBH showed some flexibility by going to the 2-3. However after Joshua Smith fouled out with about a minute a minute and a half left in OT, we gambled and lost by going to a small lineup with Anderson on the floor instead of Stover. That cost us on the next defensive possession as we allowed an offensive put-back that stretched their lead to 3. Can’t quite remember how we played the last high pick and roll but I do have a memory of Nelson getting beat by Gutierrez. Perhaps Stover makes a better play so Lee can stay with the outside 3-pt shooter?

    At any rate, a loss is a loss but I do see some silver lining as we showed maturity to get back in the ball game and put ourselves in a position to win. We need to take care of business against ASU and play an inspired game against Arizona. Hopefully this tough loss will make us a little hungrier to get it done!

  • Semi-Pro

    We definitely ran plays for Honeycutt. And we definitely DID try to exploit our matchup advantages. Unfortunately, they never worked because of AWFUL screens being set away from the ball, terrible seals by the post men, and guys playing about half-speed. Thus, the plays never materialized.

    We ran at least 2 plays every possession…because the first one almost never seemed to be executed well. All the Bruins not named Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee just did not have their Focus Caps on last night.

  • Pyperkub

    The key moments of the game:

    1. The Charge that wasn’t a charge called on Honeycutt late in the 2nd half. 5 point swing right there. Bad calls always play a part in tough losses.
    2. Zeke missing the front end of a 1&1. Ouch. Late free throw shooting kills us once again. Again, another de rigeur part of a tough loss.

    The next two are the ones that get me:

    3. Reeves Nelson’s poor hedge as Gutierrez drove the lane. This was just a lazy (tired and having a bad game?) play on Reeves’ part.
    4. Allowing Kamp to get the offensive rebound putback on the free throw in OT. Another lazy/tired-bad game/head not in the game play by Reeves.

    The first two will often happen in the course of a game, the latter two should not.

  • BRUINBEATCH

    Boston Bruin – Spot on man spot on!

  • The Blur

    A short free throw bouncing straight back off the front face of the rim is one of the toughest rebounds when you’re in the first block position that Nelson was. It’s tough to anticipate. I chalk that more up to bad luck than laziness.

    But I hoped Nelson would’ve learned by now that he can’t dunk the ball every time he goes up. He’s good for getting rejected at the rim 3-4 times per game, including a big one last night in crunch time. I wish he’d develop a mid-range game . . . a little 8-10 foot pull-up shot would make him real tough to stop. His enthusiasm was great as a freshman, but he’s starting to feel like a bull in a china shop. he needs to refine his game and he won’t have any more disappearances like last night or the first Oregon game. I still love the guy though.

  • Anon

    Hate to do it but I am because I see it alot around here: if you’re a singular member of the alumni you’re an “alumnus,” “alumna” or even “alum.” You’re NOT an “alumni,” which is the plural form.

  • l.a. steve

    I know Ben Howland doesn’t often pay attention to
    superfluous statistics.

    Cal is no. three in the conference in Defensive Rebounding. On a night when UCLA knew it was going to be challenged on the glass but had to win the battle to win the game, Anthony Stover controlled the glass, blocked out, played stifling defense, had four rebounds and a highlight block. Anthony Stover played eight minutes.

    Brendan Lane blocked out people even while he was shooting, had four rebounds in traffic, no turnovers, shot three for four from the field, had one foul. Brendan Lane played thirteen minutes.

    In the same monumentally vital game, with the conference title on the line, Tyler Honeycutt, at the number three in forty-three minutes, had zero rebounds, zero assists, zero free throws, six turnovers, and three fouls. Tyler Honeycutt, the “great passer” had zero assists while Joshua Smith played almost twenty eight minutes and Reeves Nelson over thirty. Tyler Honeycutt had zero rebounds in the game when UCLA needed his rebounding the most. Prior to the nine minute mark in the first half, Honeycutt, Ernie Kent’s “stat sheet filler,” had no assists, no rebounds, no blocks, no points, no free throws, and three turnovers.

    Three-Hundred pound Joshua Smith had six rebounds in twenty-eight minutes. Cal Guard Alan Crabbe had seven.

    Nelson and Honeycutt, had eleven turnovers in regulation, only three of them were Cal steals.

    UCLA had eighteen turnovers, three more than their average, which is two hundred and sixty fourth place nationally behind the Virginia Military Institute, in a game with the conference championship on the line. Of course, UCLA statistically leads all tournament qualifying teams in the country in turnovers.

    The only category UCLA satistically leads in the Pac-10 is turnovers.

    Cal is the number seven offensive rebounding team in the Pac-10. UCLA is the number two.
    In a game with implications of the Pac-10 title on the line Cal dominated UCLA on the Offensive glass and had six more offensive rebounds than UCLA.
    Cal had five more offensive rebounds than UCLA had assists.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    To Semi-Pro: Of course we may have run plays where Honeycutt was the first option during the course of the game, but I am referring specifically to the last two possessions (prior to Lee’s shot). I just watched the replay and saw the last two possessions. On the first one, it is unfortunate that CBH was able to get the timeout when Jones was under pressure because we had Lee streaking towards the basket with the ball when the timeout was granted. (Kudos to Montgomery for going to a trap at that time in the game to throw us out of our offense.) Jones then took the inbounds pass and dribbled into the lane and missed a not easy but makeable 8-foot shot. On the next possession, it was a box set with posts high, Honeycutt came up to backscreen for Nelson. Upon reviewing that final play numerous times, I would say that Nelson could have drawn a foul on Kamp had he gone up strong with a shot, but instead it appeared he was looking to pass to Smith and it got knocked away. It’s easy to second-guess but it’s unfortunate we didn’t even get a shot attempt.

    To Pyperkub: I thought that Honeycutt charge was wrong when I saw it live, but in the replay I could see it going as an offensive foul because he swung back and caught the defender in the face with his elbow. Tough call nonetheless.

    As for Nelson’s hedge, Cal did a smart thing on that play. Nelson hedged as Gutierrez tried to go around him to the left, however the play was designed for their center to reset a screen on Jones after he he had gotten over the screen. Nelson was scrambling back to get into position to guard their center and had his back to the ball when Gutierrez changed directions and dribbled around and past Nelson. Unfortunately Nelson broke the cardinal rule of seeing man and ball at all times but that’s a tough play to guard without relying on some secondary help. I chalk this one up to Montgomery for a great play call.

    As for Kamp getting that rebound, I attribute it more to a very bad carom (for us) as we had two guys blocking out on the right but the ball was very short and came off hard and long to the middle-right. Nelson on the left was in position to rebound. You could argue that Nelson could have continued boxing out Kamp across the middle of the lane, but that is a stretch. Now if Stover had been in the game to rebound, that second player (Anderson) boxing out on Cal’s center could have been more focused on going after the ball as opposed to helping box out (and it would have been Honeycutt, not Anderson). Again I’d have to say that Cal got lucky because it was a terrible free throw and the ball bounced to the only spot where they could have gotten it, and Kamp made a good play. Cal went on to score on this possession on the offensive put-back. I’m sure if he could do it over CBH would have had Stover in the game. Well, sometimes that’s just the way the ball bounces.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    I agree with The Blur that Nelson’s game would be improved dramatically by developing a short to mid-range jump shot. He is getting called for at least two charging fouls every game because he is taking it to the basket every chance he gets. Believe me I love players that take the ball to the basket when they can but defenses are now just waiting to take the charge and unfortunately he hasn’t adjusted.

    I agree with LA Steve that we lost the game on the boards and that Stover and Lane probably deserved more minutes. I also agree it wasn’t Honeycutt’s best game as he got outworked by Gutierrez.

  • Anonymous

    As I said before, the easy part of the schedule gone and NCAA tourney not a slam dunk as most people thought. I was pretty sure that UCLA would lose 1 out of 2 in the Bay area trip. 1-3 for the last 4 games not out of the question. This UCLA team, while improved from last year, is not good enough to show consistent performances. I don’t think they beat Az or Wa, so their tourney fate may be determined by the WSU game. Tough place to win. They may still get in after going 1-3, but probably need to get to the finals of the Pac-10 tournament. We shall see.