Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored. 24 points, and UCLA held off Northwestern in the second half to get back into the Sweet 16 with a 68-63 win Saturday night.
The second-seeded Bruins (31-5) turned up their defense late on, holding off the seventh-seeded Wildcats to a 1-for-12 shooting during a key stretch at the end of the game to seal the win.
The win was marred when David Singleton fell with a right leg injury with 20.3 seconds left. He stayed on the court for a few minutes before being helped by his team mates and going straight to the locker room. There was no immediate word on the extent of the injury.
UCLA reached the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive time for the first time in 15 years. The Bruins will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Gonzaga and TCU in the Western Region semifinals in Las Vegas Thursday night.
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Amari Bailey added 14 points, and Tyger Campbell scored 12 for UCLA.
Pooh Boy scored 18 points to lead Northwestern (22-12), Matthew Nicholson added 17 and Chase Odig scored all 16 of his points in the second half.
The Wildcats finished their second trip to the championship the same way they had six years earlier, losing in the second round.
They put up a good fight against the more tested Bruins in the tournament and even had a chance to walk off the field late in the game.
The decisive moment came in the final two minutes when Adem Bona blocked an Audige drive, sending UCLA out of transition. David Singleton hit a 3-pointer that put the Bruins ahead 62-56 with 1:50 to play.
UCLA took control of the game early on, competing on nearly every snap and neutralizing Northwestern’s high-scoring backcourt from Buie and Audige.
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Jaquez fueled a 12-2 run midway through the half to build an 11-point lead, stealing and dunking, followed by another dunk in transition on a shot by Kenneth Nwuba.
Buie finally made his first basket of the game on a drive just before the buzzer to cut UCLA’s lead to 35-25 at the break.
Audige took a lead in the second half with 14 points in the first eight minutes after being held scoreless before the break. The Wildcats tied the game at 45 when Buie was scored with a basket on a field goal call midway through the half.
The game stayed close from there until the end.
The Big Picture
Northwestern: The Wildcats followed up their championship debut with losing records in the next five seasons. Coach Chris Collins put them back in second place in the Big Ten in the regular season and is now looking to build from there.
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UCLA: Bona is back after missing the last two games with a left shoulder injury. The injury aggravated on Dunk in the second half and he went to the bench immediately but got back into the game and stopped shorts. It will be essential for him next weekend.
UCLA is two wins shy of its 20th Final Four appearance.
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