Wildcats Drop A Wild One To UCLA, 77-76

Feb 14, 2002

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - Jason Kapono was so wide open, he didn't want to think about it.

So he simply let the ball fly.

The result wasn't surprising, considering he's known as one of college basketball's finest shooters.

Kapono's 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining - his third in the final 3:36 - lifted No. 20 UCLA to a 77-76 victory over No. 9 Arizona on Thursday night.

The outcome left six Pac-10 teams - Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, California, Southern California and Stanford - with four losses in conference play.

'I just think catch and shoot, catch and score,' Kapono said. 'That's what I do best.'

The 6-foot-8 junior found himself alone on the right wing when the Wildcats converged on Matt Barnes, who got Kapono the ball for the last of his five assists.

'That was the perfect shot,' said Billy Knight, whose 3-pointer as time expired gave the Bruins a 67-65 victory over Southern California on Feb. 6. 'They double-teamed Matt, he kicked it out. I was surprised they left Jason open.'

Arizona's Channing Frye missed a 10-foot bank shot with about three seconds to play and the Wildcats couldn't get another shot off as the teams scrambled for the loose ball.

'We made enough good plays and big stops to win,' UCLA coach Steve Lavin said. 'Other than Cincinnati, Duke, Kansas and Maryland, who seem to be playing at a different level, the rest of the country has a lot of well-balanced teams.

'Kapono is one of those like (Stanford's) Casey Jacobsen, who wants the ball at the end of a game.'

Dan Gadzuric had 22 points and 16 rebounds and Kapono had 20 points as the Bruins (17-7, 9-4 Pac-10) avenged a 96-86 loss at Arizona last month, a game where they blew a 20-point lead over the final 14 minutes.

It was Arizona (17-7, 10-4) which blew a second-half lead this time.

'In a game like this, it all gets down to all of the possessions, not just the final one,' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. 'We lost the game because of our inability to do the job on the defensive glass.'

UCLA outrebounded Arizona 45-28, and got 17 offensive rebounds to just six for the Wildcats.

Barnes added 13 points and 15 rebounds and Knight scored 12 points for UCLA, which rallied from a 57-49 deficit midway through the second half.

Jason Gardner led Arizona with 25 points, scoring all but four by going 7-of-10 from 3-point range.

Luke Walton had 17 points, eight assists and three steals and Rick Anderson added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats.

Gadzuric said the Bruins were trying to keep the ball out of Gardner's hands on Arizona's final possession.

'They gave it to Walton, I went to him, he kicked the ball to out Frye,' Gadzuric said. 'It wasn't a bad shot.'

But it didn't go in.

'Not for the newspaper,' Frye said when asked if he was fouled on his last shot. 'A lot of players are fouled in a basketball game, but the reason we lost tonight was we didn't have intensity on defense or in rebounding.'

Kapono made a 3-pointer with 3:36 left, and his shot from long range with 1:07 remaining gave the Bruins a 74-73 lead - their first since the opening eight minutes.

Gardner made his final 3-pointer with 36 seconds to play, putting Arizona on top for the final time and setting the stage for Kapono.

A three-point play by Knight with 5:34 to play capped a 16-8 UCLA run and tied the game 65-all, but Walton scored four straight points and Gardner hit a 3-pointer to make it 72-67 with 3:54 left.

Baskets by Knight and Gadzuric and a 3-pointer by Kapono enabled UCLA to draw within one point early in the second half, but the Bruins got no closer until Knight's game-tying three-point play.

Gadzuric surpassed his 10.3-point scoring average by making a follow dunk with 5:55 left before halftime to tie the game 25-all.

Anderson scored five straight points for Arizona to trigger a 15-5 run that put the Wildcats on top 40-30 before Dijon Thompson and Barnes of UCLA made baskets to make it 40-34 at halftime.

Gadzuric, who had a career game with 22 points and 17 rebounds in UCLA's 79-77 overtime victory over Arizona at Pauley Pavilion last season, got off to a fast start with four baskets in the first 6{ minutes.

But UCLA wouldn't lead again until the final 67 seconds. Two 3-pointers by Anderson and another two by Gardner accounted for all the points in a 12-4 run that put the Wildcats ahead 21-15.

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