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March 8, 2008

UCLA rallies late to knock off California

Box score

LOS ANGELES California took it to No. 3 UCLA for 38 minutes and 17 seconds Saturday. The Bruins escaped with a shot worthy of highlight reels for years to come.

Josh Shipp hit a rainbow jumper over the backboard with 1.5 seconds remaining to help rally UCLA from an 11-point deficit to an 81-80 victory, the Bruins' second close call in as many games.

UCLA's school-record 28th regular-season victory was in jeopardy until the very end. The Bruins trailed by four points with 31 seconds remaining, then freshman Kevin Love hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds pass from Darren Collison to make it 80-79.

Cal's Ryan Anderson was stripped of the ball in the left corner by Russell Westbrook, and the Bruins eventually got it to Shipp, who was falling out of bounds when he put up a one-handed floater along the right baseline.

"Lucky I play H-O-R-S-E," Shipp said, referring to the can-you-top-this driveway game. "It was definitely a desperation shot. I've never seen anything like that. It's one of those movie shots. It was like a dream."

Whether the shot was legal sparked debate.

NCAA Rule 7, Section 1, Article 3 states "The ball shall be out of bounds when it passes over the backboard from any direction."

Bill McCabe, the Pac-10 supervisor of officials who attended the game, said he spoke to the officiating crew of Dave Libbey, Don McAlister and Tom Wood afterward.

"It crossed over the corner (of the backboard)," McCabe said. "The officials said it was too close to call."

Cal coach Ben Braun asked officials about the shot while they huddled to decide how much time was left on the game clock. He said he was told the basket was not reviewable.

Braun and his team were more angry that a foul wasn't called during Westbrook's steal.

"I feel bad for our guys," Braun said. "Anderson was fouled, but they didn't call it. No way that should have happened. The call should have been made. Our players should have won that game."

Anderson was just as adamant.

"They clearly tackled me, maybe hit me, and I fell to the ground looking for the foul and it didn't go our way," he said. "But that's UCLA, number (three) in the country and they're going to get respect. That's just frustrating, really frustrating."

The crowd roared as Shipp's shot slipped through the net and began spilling onto the court. Cal inbounded the ball and Shipp punched it out of bounds. The referees reviewed the tape and put 0.7 seconds on the clock, but Patrick Christopher's jumper was well short.

"That was probably a mistake," UCLA coach Ben Howland said of Shipp hitting the ball. "I'll let him slide on that one."

Love scored 22 points to lead the Bruins (28-3, 16-2), who go into next week's Pac-10 tournament on a seven-game winning streak.

Westbrook added 18 points for UCLA, while Collison had 13, Shipp 12 and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

"I want to commend Cal. They really played great," Howland said. "I'm really proud of our comeback. They never, ever stop believing they're going to win the game."

Anderson scored 21 points for the Bears (15-14, 6-12), who had won at least once against UCLA in each of the last nine seasons. Jamal Boykin added 18 points and Jerome Randle and Christopher had 13 each.

A year ago, the Bruins won the league championship on the road at Washington State, then lost by 10 points at Washington. They opened the Pac-10 tourney with a 76-69 overtime loss to Cal before going on to reach their second straight Final Four.

The next-to-last place Bears dominated most of the 40 minutes, much as No. 7 Stanford did before losing 77-67 in overtime Thursday night, when the Bruins clinched their third consecutive Pac-10 title outright.

"We aged Coach Howland about 10 years over these last two games," Love joked.

The Bears never let up, hitting six straight free throws down the stretch. In all, they were 19-of-21 from the line and shot 56 percent from the field.

"We continue to get everybody's best shot and somehow we continue to come out on top," Howland said. "This is good for us because this is how it's going to be next Thursday (in the Pac-10 tournament)."

The Bruins fell behind by 11 points three times in the second half, with Cal shooting 56 percent from the field for one stretch. Anderson's layup extended Cal's lead to 62-51.

From there, UCLA outscored the Bears 18-10 to close to 72-69 with 4:26 remaining. The Bruins went 9-of-9 from the line in the spurt and Mbah a Moute scored seven points.

Westbrook made one free throw and Mbah a Moute rebounded his miss of the second, but Shipp missed a 3-pointer. Anderson scored over Love for a 74-70 lead before Love was fouled and made both to again put the Bruins within two.

Randle was fouled by Collison, made both and Cal led 76-72. Mbah a Moute cleaned up Love's miss inside to make it 76-74 with 1:27 left.

Christopher kept Cal ahead 78-75 on two free throws before Shipp's layup on UCLA's third attempt of the possession cut it to 78-76 with 34 seconds to go.

Mbah a Moute fouled Randle at midcourt and he made both for an 80-76 lead. That's when Love calmly double-pumped with Anderson on him and put up the 3-pointer in front of UCLA's bench with 17 seconds to go.

"I was going for the foul," Love said. "He tipped the ball on the way up and I kept it in my palm."

For more coverage of UCLA, visit BruinBlitz.com; for more on California, visit BearTerritory.net.



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