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March 3, 2006

UCLA needs overtime to beat Cal



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BERKELEY, Calif. Arron Afflalo scored 21 of his 25 points after halftime, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer midway through overtime, to help No. 15 UCLA clinch at least a share of its first Pac-10 title in nine years with a 67-58 victory over California on Thursday night.

UCLA (23-6, 13-4) used its third consecutive strong second half to avenge an early season loss to the Golden Bears. The Bruins can win the conference outright by beating Stanford on Saturday or with a Washington loss at Arizona. If the Huskies and Bruins finished tied, Washington would get the No. 1 seed in next week's tournament based on sweeping the season series.

By losing three of its last four games - including two overtime games at home - California (17-9, 11-6) missed out on a chance at its first conference title since Pete Newell's final season as coach in 1960.

Cal hadn't been this close to a conference title since 1994, when the team led by Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray had a chance to tie Arizona for the crown on the final day of the season but lost at Washington State.

Afflalo's 3-pointer with 2:23 left in overtime gave UCLA the lead for good. Jordan Farmar, who missed eight of his first nine shots, scored with 1:21 left to make it 63-58. Farmar added four free throws to seal the victory.

Leon Powe scored 20 points to lead Cal, but had only five points after halftime. Ayinde Ubaka was held to 12 on 3-for-14 shooting. No other Bears player scored more than six and Cal missed its final six shots after Ubaka opened the overtime with a 3-pointer.

Darren Collison added 11 for the Bruins, who have outscored their last three opponents by 66 points after halftime. The teams split the season series for the eighth straight season.

Freshman Theo Robertson sent the game to overtime for Cal, hitting a 3-pointer from the corner with 27 seconds left to tie the game at 55. Farmar missed a foul-line jumper at the buzzer for the Bruins.

UCLA trailed by 11 points at the half before rallying behind the streaky shooting of Afflalo.

Cedric Bozeman ended a nearly seven-minute drought for the Bruins when he got credit for a basket on a goaltending by DeVon Hardin. Afflalo followed with a fast-break basket and a 3-pointer to cut it to 31-27.

Afflalo, held to four points in the opening half, scored eight in the first four minutes of the second half to get UCLA back into it. His two free throws with 1:12 remaining gave the Bruins a 55-52 lead.

Powe missed on the other end for Cal, and Alfred Aboya missed with 34 seconds left for UCLA. Ubaka pushed the ball up court and found Robertson alone in the corner for the tying shot.

Cal closed the first half with an 11-0 run, using its tight defense to force UCLA to miss all six shots and turn the ball over four times in a six-minute scoreless stretch.

Richard Midgley hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer to start the run. Powe then scored the next six points and Ubaka hit two free throws to cap the spurt and make it 31-20 at the break.

For more coverage of the UCLA Bruins, check out BruinBlitz.com.
For more coverage of the California Golden Bears, check out BearTerritory.com.


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