BERKELEY, Calif. — For a moment in UCLA’s 86-66 win Wednesday night, Cal breathed in hope.
With less than four minutes left until halftime, senior point guard Justin Cobbs hit a running floater against heavy contact. He pumped his fist, and headed to the line. He hit the free throw.
What had been a double-digit Bruin lead less than three minutes ago was cut to four.
It would be Cobbs’ only field goal of the first half. He missed an 18-footer on the Bears’ next possession, and UCLA unleashed a 7-0 run in 88 seconds. The Bruins walked into the locker room with a commanding 44-32 lead, and never felt threatened again through the remaining 20 minutes.
Powered by Jordan Adams’ game-high 28 points, UCLA led by as much as 27 and never by less than nine after the break. In addition to shooting 12-of-19 from the field, the sophomore wing filed in an all-around effort with six rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Point guard Kyle Anderson, a Bob Cousy Award finalist, had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Freshmen Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews combined for 27 points, and were the only Cal players with multiple field goals in the first half. Cobbs, Tyrone Wallace and Richard Solomon — the team’s three leading scorers — finished with 18 combined points on 4-of-21 shooting.
The Bruins hadn’t won at Haas Pavilion since a 76-75 overtime victory on Jan. 6, 2010, a game capped by a Michael Roll jumper with 1.9 seconds left. There was far less drama on Wednesday night, but the team left with a far more meaningful outcome.
Whereas the 2010 win came in the midst of a 14-18 season — the second worst of former coach Ben Howland’s 10-year tenure — this one kept UCLA within striking distance of the Pac-12 lead.
The Bruins almost got some help over 700 miles east. Utah put a scare into No. 4 Arizona, taking the Wildcats into overtime before falling 67-63. Sean Miller’s squad had been undefeated until a two-point loss at Cal on Feb. 1.