Stanford
2UCLA
67 - 77 Final - OT
  for this game

Collison powers UCLA to third straight Pac-10 title

Mar 7, 2008 - 8:07 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Twin towers couldn't stop UCLA from claiming its third consecutive Pac-10 regular-season title.

Darren Collison scored 24 points and Russell Westbrook added 19 as second-ranked UCLA posted a 77-67 overtime victory against No. 7 Stanford on Thursday night.

Freshman Kevin Love added 17 points and 10 rebounds for his 19th double-double of the season and successfully countered Stanford's Lopez twins, who combined for 32 points and 16 rebounds on 14-of-30 shooting from the floor but couldn't stop UCLA from winning yet another conference title.

"This was a great win," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "I'm elated for our team and our program. We beat a very good team tonight, one of the best teams in the country, and it took everything we had to come back from that deficit and win the ball game."

"There were huge foul shots at the end of regulation by Darren and Russell to get this thing to overtime, and I'm really greatful that our tean has won three championships in a row, in the Pac-10."

However, it was not easy for the Bruins (27-3, 15-2 Pac-10), who put together an 14-5 run over the final five minutes to narrow a double-digit deficit to two before Westbrook tied the game at 61-61 on a pair of free throws with 20 seconds remaining.

"The free throw by Russell Westbrook was God answering one of my prayers on the bench," Howland said.

Lawrence Hill took the inbounds pass and sprinted down the court, sinking an off-balance runner in the lane to give Stanford a 63-61 lead with just eight seconds left on the clock.

With no timeouts remaining, Collison was forced to hustle up the floor in order to get a shot off in time. His jumper from just outside the lane appeared to be blocked by Hill, but a foul was called.

"We were really fortunate to get that call at the end and we played hard and our guys had no quit in them," Collison said.

Collison made both free throws in the final seconds, sending the game to overtime.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's dunk gave UCLA a brief lead in overtime before Brook Lopez tied the score, 65-65, on the ensuing possession.

A pair of layups by Love and Westbrook on the Bruins' next two possessions gave them a four-point advantage with just 48 seconds left in the extra session.

After Stanford's Anthony Goods was whistled for an intentional foul, Westbrook made the front end of the technical to put UCLA up by five points before Josh Shipp sealed the victory by making the second of a pair of foul shots.

Collison and Westbrook added a trio of uncontested dunks in the closing seconds to account for the final score as Stanford (24-5, 13-4) had a four-game winning streak snapped.

"I thought our team played well, we're going to get this behind us and get ready for (Saturday's game against Southern California)," Stanford coach Trent Johnson said. "We could have won this contest, but they are a very good team. I thought we did a good job on UCLA, but I'm not worried about them."

After leading the entire first half, Robin Lopez extended Stanford's lead to 32-18 on the first possession of the second half. Yet, Love sparked a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to narrow the deficit to seven points.

Brook Lopez and Taj Finger briefly ended the Bruins' run with a pair of layups, but UCLA went on another 9-2 spurt, forcing Stanford to take a timeout while holding a 38-34 lead with 13:03 left to play.

Brook Lopez made a jumper out of the timeout and, after a missed dunk by UCLA's Alfred Aboya, Mitch Johnson drained a shot from the arc as the Cardinal established a nine-point lead.

Collison single-handedly kept UCLA in the game, scoring nine straight points over the next 2:16, including a four-point play after he was fouled while making a 3-pointer from the left corner.

Collison's surge narrowed Stanford's lead to just 45-43 but the Lopez twins combined for nine points during an 11-2 run as the Cardinal forged an 11-point lead with 5:37 remaining.

Brook Lopez finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds and Robin Lopez added 14 points and two blocks for Stanford, which held a slim 38-36 advantage on the boards.