California
UCLA
76 - 69 Final - OT
  for this game

Ubaka lifts Cal to upset of UCLA in Pac-10 Tournament

Mar 9, 2007 - 4:14 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Ayinde Ubaka had something to say about UCLA's prospects for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Ubaka scored 12 of his career high-tying 29 points in the closing six minutes as California shocked third-ranked UCLA with a 76-69 overtime victory in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Conference Tournament.

Freshman Ryan Anderson added 18 points for the Golden Bears (16-16), who avenged a pair of losses to the Bruins in the regular season by a combined 26 points. They also posted their first win over a top-five opponent since January 28, 1995, when they beat their intrastate rival.

"I'm proud of our guys, I'm proud of our effort," California coach Ben Braun said. "We've been down some guys and our effort has always been there. We've been so close, we've been close this year in almost every game and it's nice to see our guys get rewarded with their effort because we've been there, we've had to fight through so much this year."

Cal next will face No. 18 Oregon, a 69-50 winner over Arizona earlier Thursday. For UCLA (26-5), the prospects for receiving a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs might have shrunk after losing its second straight game and first in its opening game of this event since 2005.

"I don't even care," Bruins coach Ben Howland said about the top seed being in jeopardy. "It doesn't matter who we play. If we don't play better than we're playing right now, anyone in the field of 64 can beat us."

Last year, the Bruins topped the Golden Bears, 71-52, in collecting their first league tournament title since 1987.

After trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half, UCLA rallied after intermission, taking a 59-56 lead when Lorenzo Mata split two free throws with 1:34 remaining.

Ubaka, who finished 5-of-6 on 3-pointers, tied the contest 35 seconds later on a shot from the arc and, after Darren Collison had a layup for the Bruins, hit a runner with 12 seconds left to make it 61-61.

"Every game this year that's gone into overtime, that's been decided down the stretch, he puts his fingerprints on the result," Braun said. "He's willing to take charge, he's willing to take big shots, he's willing to have the ball in his hands, and you need a player like that."

"You have to give Cal a lot of credit," Howland said. "They showed a lot of heart and they made a lot of big plays down the stretch."

The contest went to overtime after Collison, who finished with 20 points, hit the back of the rim on a 3-point attempt from deep above the key. The sophomore ended up 3-of-10 from the arc.

In the extra session, UCLA grabbed the early lead on a layup by Arron Afflalo, but Omar Wilkes and Ubaka both had baskets for a 65-63 edge with 3:23 left.

Cal, which snapped a four-game losing streak against UCLA, pushed the lead to five points after four straight free throws by Eric Vierneisel before Ubaka added the dagger with a 3-pointer, making it 72-64 with 1:16 remaining.

"I think we had a great will to win," Ubaka said.

While the Bears made all three of their shots in the extra session, they held the Bruins to 3-of-11 shooting.

"We've been preaching defense to our guys and that was a big difference today for us," Braun said. "Down the stretch in the game (and) in overtime, we got some big stops."

Collison also had six assists but committed seven turnovers and leading scorer Afflalo was held to three points on 1-of-7 shooting for the Bruins, who will enter the NCAA Tournament with a two-game losing streak.

"If I am not scoring, I need to find a way to still be involved," Afflalo said. "This was by far my worst game. My character will definitely be tested to bounce back."

The top two scorers for UCLA were all but non-existent in the first half as Cal built a 29-13 advantage with 6:28 remaining behind an 18-3 run. Anderson scored nine straight points for the Bears during the burst and Ubaka added five.

The Bruins were able to cut that deficit to 37-25 at the half as Josh Shipp hit a pair of 3-pointers in the closing four minutes. The sophomore swingman finished 5-of-9 from the arc with 19 points.

UCLA continued its charge after intermission, opening the second half with a 20-4 run to grab a 45-41 edge with 10:47 remaining.

"By coming out sluggish we put ourselves in a hole," said UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who had 13 points and six rebounds. "We came out stronger in the second half but we could have had a greater effort to give ourselves a chance to win."

"We knew they were going to go on a run," said Vierneisel, who had 10 points. "We didn't necessarily want that to happen, but we knew it was pretty much inevitable. We were able to stay close, it wasn't like they got up to 10 or 12 or 15 on us, it was just one or two the entire time. We would have liked to have kept the lead the whole time, but that's the way it goes."

Reeling after missing eight of its first nine shots after the break, Cal was able to turn the ship around as Wilkes had a layup and Anderson added a 3-pointer to retake the lead at 46-45 with 9:49 left.

"We kept our heads in the game and we came back with a run ourselves," Anderson said.

Both teams went back-and-forth until the Bears grabbed a 56-53 edge on a 3-pointer by Ubaka. Answering back, the Bruins went on a 6-0 spurt to make it 59-56 with 1:34 to play before Ubaka took over with his two big shots.