Bruins Earn Spot In Pac-10 Tournament

March 8, 2003

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - Dijon Thompson scored 26 points and UCLA defeatedWashington 84-72 to earn the last berth in the Pac-10 tournament Saturdaynight, assuring that coach Steve Lavin will keep his job for at least anotherweek.

At the final buzzer, students swarmed the court as if the Bruins (9-18) hadwon another national championship instead of merely extending their worstseason in 55 years.

They earned the eighth seed in next week's tournament. But it could be overThursday, when UCLA will play No. 1 Arizona in the first round at StaplesCenter. The Bruins lost twice to the Wildcats by a combined 71 points duringthe regular season.

Lavin expects to be fired as soon as the season ends. He is 144-77 sincebeing promoted from assistant to head coach seven years ago.

At 6-12, UCLA finished in a three-way tie for sixth in the conference withOregon State and Southern California. However, the Bruins ended up with the No.8 seed because they split with Oregon State and were swept by the crosstownrival Trojans.

Seniors Jason Kapono and Ray Young each had 20 points in their final homegame. The rest of the Bruins scored just six points.

The Huskies (10-17, 5-13) could have made the tournament with a victory.Instead, they lost their 17th straight at Pauley Pavilion, where they haven'twon since 1987.

Coached by former UCLA assistant Lorenzo Romar, Washington finished 2-10 onthe road, including a 1-8 mark in conference play.

Nate Robinson led the Huskies with 14 points. Doug Wrenn, Bobby Jones andWill Conroy added 10 points each. Washington shot just 36 percent in the secondhalf.

The Bruins were clinging to a three-point lead when T.J. Cummings missed twofree throws with 2:17 remaining. Young tipped in the second miss to keep theBruins ahead 75-70.

Young made two free throws and Thompson hit a basket as UCLA led 79-70.

After being booed in the first half when they trailed by 14 points, theBruins dominated much of the final 20 minutes. They opened with a 39-16 run,including six straight points by Kapono, to take a 65-52 lead with 6:51remaining. The spurt included 14 unanswered points, including consecutive3-pointers by Thompson and Kapono.

Thompson's 3-pointer gave UCLA its first lead of the game with 11:19remaining. The Bruins shot 74 percent in the second half.

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