UCLA falls to Arizona in Pac-12 title match, damaging chances for No. 1 NCAA seed

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UCLA’s Jaime Jacquez Jr. handles the ball against Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis (10) during the Pac-12 Championship Game. Jaquez had 13 points but went five-for-18 from the field in the Bruins’ 61–59 loss. (Chase Stevens / Associated Press)

UCLA You didn’t come here just to try your best.

Their best defender back home, their top big man looking in a sweatsuit, the Bruins didn’t return Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena while seriously underpowered in a heavyweight title fight.

His counterpunch run ended in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship.

A wild game came down to a mad scramble to finish. Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis pushed his team to a two-point lead before missing the second with 5.8 seconds left to make the first of two free throws.

of UCLA Jaime Jacquez Jr. grabbed the rebound and dribbled frantically downcourt before passing to the freshman guard Dylan Andrews on the wing. Andrews rose for a three-pointer that caromed to the side of the rim at the buzzer, preserving the second-seeded Wildcats’ 61–59 victory over the top-seeded Bruins, whose 12-game winning streak ended.

“The wide-open shot to win the game,” UCLA Coach Mick Cronin said later. “it is what it is.”

UCLA guard Amari Bailey controls the ball under pressure from Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis and guard Kerr Krissa.

UCLA’s Amari Bailey controls the ball under pressure from Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis, second from right, and Kerr Krissa (25) on Saturday night. (Chase Stevens / Associated Press)

Eighth-ranked Arizona celebrated their second consecutive title win over UCLA (29-5), while the No. 2 Bruins pondered where they might be seeded in the NCAA Tournament.

Despite being largely short-handed, the Bruins had every chance to pull this one off.

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Given a chance to tie the score with 6.8 seconds left, Bruins point guard tiger campbell, an 84.9% free-throw shooter who had been clutch all week, missed the second of two free throws, the ball spinning around the rim before coming out. Cronin said that Campbell was unnecessarily mad at himself afterward.

“I’ll put my career on the line,” Cronin said, “with Tiger on the line.”

Another opportunity for UCLA was lost Jacquez fumbled to steal the ball from Tubliss with 1:10 left and the Bruins regained their one-point lead. But after the Bruins called a timeout, Jacquez missed a short jumper.

“I had a lot of good looks,” said Jacquez, who scored 13 points on five-for-18 shooting, “I just missed.”

The Wildcats missed their next shot but Tubliss recovered an offensive rebound and found courtney ramey for a three-pointer that pushed Arizona into a 60–58 lead with 18 seconds left. Cronin suggested that Ramey had pushed Will McClendon before the shot, one of two calls that upset Cronin.

The second call came in the first half Jacquez cut to Amari Bailey, who made a vicious, one-handed dunk over Arizona’s Pelle Larsen. whistle blows. Believing it was a chance for a three-point play, the Bruins fans roared.

Arizona guard Courtney Ramey, center, celebrates with teammates after winning the Pac-12 Tournament.

Arizona guard Courtney Ramey, center, celebrates with teammates after winning the Pac-12 Tournament. (Chase Stevens / Associated Press)

No. The officer made a gesture with his hand to indicate that Bailey had pushed. Outrageous dishonesty. Cronin and Bruins fans were furious.

Cronin said incredulously, “An offensive foul called the guy who had the best dunk of the season.”

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It got messed up somehow. On the Wildcats’ next possession, Larson threw down his one-handed dunk, prompting an Arizona fan sitting courtside to shout, “That’s how you do it!”

Bruised but not broken, the Bruins kept back. They took a nine-point lead early in the second half before it looked like their spell might be over. The shots stopped falling. Foul pile.

with the Freshman Center sow edamame The Bruins ran out of big guys in the final minutes, seeing off after injuring his left shoulder. Backup Mac Etienne fouled out with 9:35 left and Kenneth Nuba with four minutes left.

Tubelis scored 19 for the Wildcats (28–6), and Bailey led the Bruins in scoring with 19.

It was supposed to be a chance to settle debates, answer questions, clear any doubts.

These teams met twice this season, each winning once. The respective fan bases had made their cases for supremacy. UCLA was the tougher, more complete team. Arizona possessed a large front line and a potent offense.

The Bruins had just clinched the Pac-12 title last week, sweeping the Wildcats in a four-game runaway. But any reasonable calculation the Bruins had changed drastically over the past week.

junior guard jaylen clark Was out due to a lower leg injury. Bona, a shot-blocking menace, was turned into a cheerleader because of shoulder soreness that wasn’t expected to last him out last Saturday.

The Bruins endured it all as part of a stirring Pac-12 tournament run that was the stuff of Disney, pulling away from Colorado before blitzing Oregon behind the Campbell Barrage. But this challenge was on another level, like climbing the Santa Monica Mountains to Mount Everest.

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UCLA almost made it but didn’t quite reach the summit.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times,