UCLA baseball sets school record with 22nd conference win

This might be UCLA’s best baseball team yet.

The No. 2 Bruins beat Oregon, 4-3, on Friday night, plating the go-ahead run on a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth inning. The victory moved them to 22-6 in Pac-12 play, setting a new school record for conference wins. UCLA won 21 league games on their way to the national title in 2013, as well as in 1986 and 1979.

A three-run third inning gave the Bruins an early 3-1 lead, but the Ducks tied the game with a series of singles in the eighth. UCLA shortstop Kevin Kramer drew a four-pitch walk against reliever Garrett Cleavinger to push his team ahead.

The team already clinched its third conference title in five years by sweeping Arizona last weekend, but it can still set more milestones. Two more wins to close out the regular season would give UCLA a 44-12 record. The Bruins’ best-ever regular season came five years ago, when they went 43-13 and reached the College World Series final.

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Photos: UCLA ties for third in Pac-12 after beating Oregon

Photos from UCLA’s 72-63 win over Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 14, including a halftime ceremony to honor the 1995 championship team. (Michael Owen Baker/Daily News)

— The game story on UCLA’s 72-63 win over Oregon at Pauley Pavilion, one that featured a highlight-reel day from Norman Powell.
Mark Whicker’s column on how Tony Parker’s presence has helped keep the Bruins’ NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

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VIDEO: Norman Powell goes between his legs for huge dunk

Oregon arrived at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday with one of the most trigger-happy offenses in the league, and UCLA happily fell into that long-distance style. The two teams combined to take 28 3-pointers in the first half, out of 60 total field-goal attempts.

But the play of the half belonged instead to Norman Powell, the Bruins’ freight train of a guard. The senior has improved his 3-point shooting this year — from 29.4 to 33.3 percent — but his bread and butter is still attacking the paint. He did that against the Ducks, using a stiff Thomas Welsh screen and a through-his-legs dribble to set up a vicious dunk.

“That’s Norman,” said head coach Steve Alford. “He’s SportsCenter. He does that. There’s one of those a game. That one — that move there — was as good as it’s been all year long. … I’ve never seen a pick-and-roll split like that.”

Added Powell: “I saw a little space where he hedged out too fast before I came off the screen. The rest was just instincts.”

The 6-foot-4 guard led the Bruins with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, helping them to a 72-63 win.

Video h/t @cjzero / The Cauldron

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