March Madness: UCLA beats Northwestern, returns to Sweet 16

The scene contained in the UCLA locker room resembled what you would possibly anticipate after the tip of an extended journey in late January.

Players sat at their lockers, some taking a look at telephones, others misplaced in dialog with teammates, nobody celebrating Saturday at Golden 1 Center. The solely reminder that this was a particular time of 12 months was the big NCAA event bracket positioned at one finish of the room, the Bruins having superior, permitting designated sticker slapper Russell Stong IV to maneuver UCLA into the following spherical.

As a reporter requested senior guard David Singleton what the workforce was going to do to commemorate this newest triumph as a part of one other deep run into March, Stong raised a triumphant fist into the air from his seat three lockers over.

“Team film session and recovery,” the walk-on interjected.

This is who they’re. This is what they do.

For the third time in as many seasons, UCLA has made it to the Sweet 16.

The Bruins get to maintain taking part in as a result of one other development endured: The remaining minutes continued to be successful time.

Shaking off an enormous Northwestern rally that erased a 13-point deficit within the second half, second-seeded UCLA held off the seventh-seeded Wildcats for an intense, 68-63 victory within the second spherical.

It was a triumph stuffed with redemption for the Bruins.

UCLA’s Tyger Campbell places up a shot towards Northwestern within the first half Saturday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Point guard Tyger Campbell, who missed a late free throw within the Pac-12 event championship, went 12 for 12, together with six straight within the remaining three minutes.

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Singleton, who went scoreless in that title-game loss to Arizona, buried his solely three-pointer of the night time to offer the Bruins a 62-56 lead with 1:52 left.

Freshman guard Dylan Andrews, who missed a three-pointer on the finish of the Arizona recreation per week in the past, made a three-pointer from almost the identical spot on the courtroom with 9 minutes left towards Northwestern. Andrews additionally made two free throws with 20 seconds left after the departure of Singleton, who injured an ankle and needed to depart the sport.

Andrews stated assistant coach Rod Palmer advised him within the timeout huddle that the Wildcats doubtless would choose him to shoot the free throws, permitting him to begin his routine as soon as he stepped to the road.

“Just spin the ball, dribble two times and I clear my mind with a deep breath and just me and the basket, that’s all I can see,” Andrews stated. “Made both.”

There was widespread reduction when Singleton returned to the bench earlier than the tip of the sport and wiggled his fingers to elicit cheers from the gang as he walked off the courtroom.

“I just rolled my ankle,” stated Singleton, who was recognized with a sprain. “I’m fine.”

It took across-the-board contributions for the Bruins to carry off a valiant effort from Northwestern in what certified as the most important recreation within the Big Ten faculty’s basketball historical past.

UCLA's Kenneth Nwuba battles for a loose ball against Northwestern's Ty Berry in the first half.

UCLA’s Kenneth Nwuba battles for a unfastened ball towards Northwestern’s Ty Berry within the first half.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Sacramento California March 16, 2023-UCLA's Ammari Bailey, left, and Adem Bona battle for loose ball.

UCLA’s Amari Bailey, left, and Adem Bona, proper, battle for unfastened ball towards Northwestern within the second half.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 24 factors whereas passing Bill Walton on UCLA’s all-time scoring checklist, Amari Bailey added 14 factors and Campbell had 12 with seven assists and no turnovers earlier than hurling the ball into the air after the ultimate buzzer.

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UCLA (31-5) will play the winner of Sunday’s second-round recreation between Gonzaga and Texas Christian in a regional semifinal Thursday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Bruins joined Houston and Arkansas as the one groups to make it to the final three Sweet 16s, with Gonzaga presumably becoming a member of them.

Some particular assist will accompany the Bruins at their subsequent cease.

“Yay I get to go to Vegas!” injured guard Jaylen Clark tweeted, including a happy-tears emoji.

An extremely intense, back-and-forth recreation was tilting in UCLA’s route when Singleton, who had missed his first 4 three-pointers, rose with confidence and at last bought one to fall, giving his workforce the late six-point lead.

“Once you don’t believe in yourself, it’s over,” Singleton stated. “So I always have confidence — I think every shot’s going in.”

Northwestern (22-12) by no means bought nearer than 4 factors the remainder of the best way, Boo Buie’s missed layup with 13 seconds left and his workforce down six successfully ending the Wildcats’ probabilities. Buie completed with 18 factors, Matthew Nicholson added 17 and Chase Audige had all 16 of his within the second half for the Wildcats.

Jaquez now has 1,773 factors in 4 seasons, surpassing Walton’s 1,767 in three seasons.

“I’ll be sure to tell Bill when I see him,” Jaquez cracked of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer.

Singleton stated the Bruins would have fun upon returning to Westwood, in all probability gathering at Stong’s residence. There will likely be a workforce movie session alongside epic online game battles.

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“We have one TV on the game,” Singleton stated, “the other TV we have on Super Smash Bros.”

The partying gained’t get too intense, everybody realizing there are extra video games to play, extra victories to safe.

“We’re going to celebrate, but we know the job’s not finished,” Singleton stated. “We made it to the Sweet 16, but we go to a school that they don’t hang anything but national championships up.”

Two wins down, 4 to go.