Bruins Overpower Huskies

The No. 19 UCLA Bruins overcame a seven-point halftime deficit with a dominating second half performance to win 85-79 over the Washington Huskies at Hec Edmundson Pavilon Thursday night.

The loss to the Bruins snapped the Huskies four-game home winning streak against the visitors from Los Angeles, and dropped Washington Head Coach Bob Bender's all-time record in the series to 4-13.

The Huskies (6-4, 0-1 Pac-10) led 37-30 at intermission behind the play of Curtis Allen and great support from a rabid crowd of 7,215, but UCLA came out of the locker room on fire and quickly got back in the game.

Dan Gadzuric, UCLA's giant 6-11 senior center from Holland, led the charge, benefiting from a foul-ridden Husky front line. With Washington center David Dixon having two fouls and fellow big-men Grant Leep and Jeffrey Day each having two by halftime, Bruin Head Coach Steve Lavin went to Gadzuric time and time again. It didn't take long for the strategy to pay off. He hit two six-footers in the lane, and slammed home a rebound to draw UCLA to within 38-41 just 2:30 into the second half. A three-pointer from senior forward Matt Barnes knotted the score up on the Bruins' next possession, and from that moment on the Huskies would never lead again.

Bender regarded that 3:30 minute stretch where UCLA went on a 13-6 run to tie the game as the key part of the game.

"It was the key from the sense of the big, emotional first half of what we were doing well," he said. "Our defense allowed them to score right away and then we couldn't score right away and the lead was gone."

UCLA worked the lead up to 11 after the Huskies had pulled to within two, going on a 9-0 run that was paced by four points from sophomore TJ Cummings, a three pointer from Kapono, and a thunderous dunk by Gadzuric as a capper.

Washington got to within six with 52 seconds remaining after consecutive three-pointers from Leep and sharp-shooter Josh Barnard, and had an opportunity to get even closer. But a steal by Massingale, which led to a fastbreak, ended with an offensive foul on the Tacoma guard at the other end of the court, killing any last hopes of a Husky comeback. UCLA drilled five of six free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.

"It is a difficult loss because of the determination and effort from the guys," said Washington's Bender of his team. "I am very proud but I hate to use that to explain that it was a loss and in some ways you feel like you wasted that emotion and effort in a game that came down to making plays down the stretch."

The Huskies road the back of Doug Wrenn for virtually the entire time he was on the court. Wrenn, who was replaced in the starting lineup by CJ Massingale after showing up late for Washington's previous game, came off the bench 5:25 into the game and put together his finest performance as a Husky. The redshirt sophomore from Seattle's O'Dea High School scored nine points before half, then added another 14 after intermission to lead the UW with 23 for the game. He also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.

"I'm very proud of him," said Bender of his 6-7 swingman. "I see him maturing and the maturing is something that when you are around him every day is easier to see."

But even with a 10-17 shooting performance from Wrenn, it wasn't enough for the Huskies' cause.

UCLA (6-2, 1-0 Pac-10) went to a full court press coming out of the half and was able to confuse Washington, forcing the home team into several momentum-building turnovers for the Bruins. UCLA capitalized, using the inside-outside threat of Gadzuric in the post and Kapono out at the perimeter.

"Two things are going to happen to be threats," Bender said. "You are going to give up the chance of threes from Kapono or twos from Gadzuric, and Jason Kapono is a good player. Good players are going to get the ball where it needs to go and let their offense come to them, and they did that time and time again."

Gadzuric played a season-high 35 minutes and scored 15 of his team-high 23 points after halftime, while Kapono finished the game with 19 points on 6-14 shooting from the field.

"When Dan Gadzuric plays like he is capable of at both ends of the court, it allows us to take our game to the next level," said Lavin after the game.

Gadzuric had been averaging just 19 minutes per game this season, and in previous years often ran in to foul trouble in games against Washington. But tonight, the opposite was true as it was the Huskies who couldn't avoid the referee's whistles.

Dixon and Day each played only 12 minutes in the contest. Day was forced to come into the game prematurely because Dixon picked up two quick fouls in the game's first four minutes. The freshman from Seattle Prep faired no better while on the court, taking just two minutes to pick up a pair of fouls of his own. That handicapped the capabilities of Bender, who already had been forced to play shorthanded with 6-7 freshman Mike Jensen out for the year with a shoulder injury.

Day ended up fouling out with 13:43 remaining in the game, and Dixon lasted just seven minutes longer before he too was forced to the bench with his fifth personal.

For the game, the Husky center combination was dominated from a statistical standpoint by Gadzuric. Dixon and Day combined to score only five points and grab five rebounds in 24 minutes of play, while the Bruin center pulled down 13 boards to go with his high point total.

Game Notes:

Bad Boy in the House: James Edwards, a former Husky and member of the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" Championship teams in the late 1980's, was in the building tonight to see the Dawgs. He's also attended Husky practices throughout the season.

Lopsided Series: With the win tonight, UCLA moved to 81-29 in the all-time series versus Washington. The Bruins have also now won 25 of the last 31 meetings between the Pac-10 schools.

Game Totals:

Husky Stats:
Scoring: Wrenn 23, Barnard 14, Allen 13, Leep 10, Knight 9, Massingale 5, Dixon 4, Day 1
Rebounds: Wrenn 7, Knight 6, Leep 6, Allen 5, Massingale 4, Day 3, Barnard 2, Dixon 2
Assists: Allen 5, Knight 4, Conroy 3, Barnard 3
Blocks: Wrenn 1
Steals: Leep 2, Allen 2, Knight 1, Day 1, Conroy 1

Bruin Stats:
Scoring: Gadzuric 23, Kapono 19, Knight 17, Barnes 12, Cummings 10, Hines 2, Thompson 2
Rebounds: Gadzuric 13, Barnes 4, Kapono 4, Knight 4, Hines 2, Cummings 2, Thompson 1
Assists: Barnes 4, Kapono 3, Knight 3, Hines 3, Thompson 2, Gadzuric 1
Blocks: Gadzuric 1, Thompson 1
Steals: Kapono 2, Barnes 1, Gadzuric 1, Knight 1, Hines 1, Thompson 1 Top Stories