Facing hot-shooting Stanford, UCLA falters again on the road

STANFORD, Calif. — With just over a minute left, the UCLA defense broke down again. Josh Huestis, left all alone, flushed in an emphatic two-handed dunk.

Some 30 second later, the forward snuffed out the Bruins hopes again — this time by blocking Kyle Anderson at top of the arc. Maples Pavilion rose to its feet, cheering an 83-74 victory that never felt all that difficult.

UCLA’s window for catching Pac-12 leader Arizona got a little bit smaller as they filed another deflating road performance.

The back end of road trips has been UCLA’s Achilles heel in conference play. The Bruins lost at both Utah and Oregon State, shooting 40.8 percent in those two games. They allowed 47.6 percent, including 42.5 from beyond the arc.

They also failed to move the ball, notching just 26 combined assists against 28 turnovers. For a team that leads the conference with a 1.66 ratio, it was a dramatic about-face.

The first half at Stanford on Saturday only echoed those struggles.

UCLA went over five minutes without a field goal, allowing the Cardinal a 12-0 run and falling into a 38-30 hole. Through the first 20 minutes, the Bruins allowed 53.8 percent shooting. They had just eight assists to eight turnovers.

The second half didn’t start off much better. Nearly six minutes had elapsed until UCLA finally had a double-digit scorer. The Bruins made eight of their first 15 shots, but Stanford countered with nine of their first 11.

Point guard Chasson Randle had a game-high 26 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers. After UCLA closed to within three points on a 13-2 run, one of those buckets helped bump the Cardinal cushion back up to nine.

UCLA chipped back to within four points with over two minutes left — thanks in part to Zach LaVine’s first double-digit effort since Jan. 23 — but Stanford iced the game with 11 free throws in the final three minutes.

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