for this game

UCLA stays in striking distance for Pac-10 title

Feb 20, 2009 - 7:48 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- UCLA isn't going to give up its Pac-10 crown without a fight.

Josh Shipp scored 20 points, leading the 15th-ranked Bruins to an 85-74 victory over No. 19 Washington on Thursday.

Darren Collison added 17 points and Nikola Dragovic added 15 and eight rebounds for UCLA (20-6, 9-4 Pac-10), which has won three straight regular-season conference titles and now trails the first-place Huskies (19-7, 10-4) by one-half game in the standings.

"We needed this big win," Shipp told the Los Angeles Times. "For us, it was definitely a momentum booster and a confidence booster."

Justin Dentmon had 22 points and Jon Brockman contributed 16 and 14 rebounds for Washington, which entered the game as the highest scoring team in the Pac-10, averaging 80.4 points per game, but failed to mount its usual offensive attack and fell short of the season sweep of the Bruins.

"We were not able to get stops," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told the Times. "We turned the ball over."

The Huskies shot just 38 percent (13-of-34) in the first half as UCLA used a 14-6 run midway through the opening 20 minutes to claim an eight-point lead, forcing Washington to call timeout with 6:33 remaining.

The Huskies scored six straight points out of the timeout to narrow the deficit to 25-23, but Shipp responded with five straight points and Alfred Aboya's dunk capped a 7-0 run en route to a 34-27 Bruins advantage at halftime.

UCLA expanded its lead to 41-31 after emerging from the locker rooms, but Washington scratched its way to within two points with a 20-12 run that was capped by Venoy Overton's dunk with 12:19 left in the game.

After a timeout by the Bruins, the Huskies evened the scored, 55-55, on Quincy Pondexter's layup.

But, UCLA went on a 10-3 run over the next 2:21 to seal the win and snap a two-game losing streak.

"This was a gut-check week for us and we responded to the first half of that gut check," Bruins coach Ben Howland told the newspaper. "I never had doubts about this team. We showed a lot of character the way we bounced back for this win."