UCLA beats Northwestern 68-63 to advance to Sweet 16

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The best news for UCLA came after the Bruins finished off their second-round victory over Northwestern.

Lead guard David Singleton did not break his ankle when he went down with an injury late in UCLA’s 69-63 win over Northwestern on Saturday night, giving the Bruins hope that he can return when they play in the Sweet 16 next week.

“I knew it wasn’t that bad,” said Singleton, who was on the court in pain for a few minutes before being taken to the locker room. “I broke my foot before. I didn’t feel it pop or anything. It was just hurting at the moment. I am fine. I’ll just start with my trainer.

Coach Mick Cronin said the injury brought back bad memories of two decades ago, when he was an assistant in Cincinnati and star Kenyon Martin broke his leg just before the tournament.

Now he expects Singleton to return to a reduced lineup, without the injured Jaylen Clark.

“I was having flashbacks to when I had a full head of hair in the spring of 2000 running there and Kenyon Martin was playing there,” Cronin said. “Looks like he has a bad sprain. … I’m glad he didn’t break his ankle. It’s been crazy for us here lately.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 24 points and UCLA withstood a second-half push from Northwestern to get back into the Sweet 16.

The second-ranked Bruins (31-5) turned up the defensive intensity late on, holding the seventh-ranked Wildcats to 1-of-12 shooting during a key late-game stretch to seal the victory.

“We started to go up, switching to them, bringing the pressure back like in the first half,” said Jaquez. “I think we avoided that (at first) in the second half with just light changes. I think we caught a lot more.”

UCLA reached a third consecutive Sweet 16 for the first time in 15 years. The Bruins will face the winner of Sunday’s game between Gonzaga and TCU in the West Region semifinals in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

Amari Bailey added 14 points and Tyger Campbell scored 12 for UCLA.

Boo Buie scored 18 points to lead Northwestern (22-12), Matthew Nicholson added 17 and Chase Audige scored all 16 of his points in the second half.

“I wasn’t surprised by the way we played in the second half because that’s the way these guys have been, that’s the way our team has been all year,” said head coach Chris Collins. “We have a fighting spirit. … I couldn’t be more proud of my guys.

The Wildcats ended their second stint in the tournament the same way they did their first six years ago, losing in the second round.

They put up a good fight against the more tournament-tested Bruins and had a chance until they lost the field late in the game.

The key moment came in the final two minutes, when Adem Bona blocked an Audige shot, eliminating UCLA in transition. David Singleton hit the 3-pointer that put the Bruins up 62-56 with 1:50 to play.

UCLA controlled the game early and built the big lead by neutralizing Northwestern’s Buie and Audige backcourt and taking out Jaquez in transition.

Buie finally made his first field goal of the game with a drive just before the buzzer to cut UCLA’s lead to 35-25 at halftime.

Audige started the second half with 14 points in the first eight minutes. The Wildcats tied it at 45 when Buie was credited with a field goal on a goalie call midway through halftime.

But they failed to close the deal.

“That’s what we wanted, an eight-minute fight,” said Collins. “Give credit to UCLA. Every time we had a run they made great plays.”


Northwestern: The Wildcats followed their first tournament appearance with losing records over the next five seasons. Collins took them back to No. 2 in the Big Ten in the regular season and is now looking to build from there.

UCLA: Bona returned after missing the last two games with a left shoulder injury. He compounded the injury with a second-half dunk and was benched immediately, but came back into the game and had the decisive block late on. His presence will be fundamental next weekend.


UCLA is two wins away from its 20th Final Four appearance.

UCLA beats Northwestern 68-63 to advance to Sweet 16 Originally appeared on NBCSports.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *