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Collison, late run help UCLA edge California

Mar 1, 2009 - 5:51 AM BERKELEY, California (Ticker) -- California may be enjoying one of its better seasons this decade, but it still can't find a way to beat UCLA.

Darren Collison scored 22 points and Josh Shipp had 14 as No. 19 UCLA completed its third straight season sweep of California with a 72-68 victory on Saturday.

Nikola Dragovic added 12 points for the Bruins (22-7, 11-5 Pac-10), who moved into second place in the Pac-10 Conference standings. They trail Washington (13-4) by 1 1/2 games with two contests remaining.

The Bruins trailed by four midway through the second half before going on a 13-0 run to take a 62-53 advantage with 6:07 to play. Dragovic made a pair of 3-pointers and Collison scored seven points to help UCLA take control.

"They've got such a tremendous amount of confidence in the ability to score late, particularly with Collison," Golden Bears coach Mike Montgomery said. "I just think that Collison is such a clutch player, and he makes plays in critical situation. In late clock, he's as good as there is."

California slowly chipped away and eventually cut the deficit to 71-68 on Jerome Randle's 3-pointer with 16 seconds to play.

However, Shipp made the second of two free throws to push the Bruins lead to four with seven seconds remaining, sealing the victory.

Randle finished with 20 points and Patrick Christopher scored 16 for the Bears (21-8, 10-6), who have lost nine of their last 10 games with the Bruins.

"We knew (Christopher) was going to have a hot hand, coming off a career high.," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "He's a great player, he's a really, really good player. I love their team, I love their guards. You don't want to play Cal in the Pac-10 tournament or in the NCAA Tournament."

California, which last won 21 games during the 2002-03 campaign, had control of the contest for most of the first half.

Randle's 3-pointer gave the Bears a 28-21 lead but the Bruins answered with a 9-0 run - capped by Michael Roll's 3-pointer - to take a two-point edge with 2:44 left before the break. California went back up, 34-32, at intermission.

"The reality is that we should have been up a bunch in the first half," Montgomery said. "We turned the ball over too much, which obviously contributed to part of our woes. But we were scoring the ball, we were playing hard."

UCLA scored the first seven points of the second half to take a five-point lead but California answered with a 12-2 run to go in front, 46-41, with 13:52 remaining. Theo Robertson scored eight points during the burst for the Bears.

California maintained a slim lead until UCLA went on its huge run to take control.