March 7, 2002
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Just when it appeared California would succumb to UCLA's rally, the Golden Bears stopped the Bruins cold.
Ryan Forehan-Kelly tied his career high with 20 points and Amit Tamir's inside basket snapped a tie with 1:39 remaining, lifting the 25th-ranked Bears over UCLA 67-61 on Thursday night in the first round of the Pacific-10 Conference tournament.
UCLA freshman Ryan Walcott's basket tied it at 59 with 2:06 remaining after the Bruins rallied from 10 points down.
But Tamir scored off an inbounds pass, helping the Bears outscore UCLA 8-2 over the final 1:39. Forehan-Kelly came off a screen set by Tamir, who then slipped low to the basket.
"That was a huge play," Cal coach Ben Braun said. "Big game for us."
Jason Kapono, Billy Knight and Matt Barnes - three of UCLA's best shooters - all missed down the stretch.
"UCLA erased 10 points about as fast as a team can," Braun said. "We didn't get down. Our players dug in at the end when we needed to get a stop."
The third-seeded Bears (22-7) will play No. 2 seed Arizona in Friday's semifinals at Staples Center. The Wildcats (20-9) defeated seventh-seeded Arizona State 73-56 earlier Thursday.
The sixth-seeded Bruins (19-11) are left to await a possible NCAA tournament bid, where they'll have a chance to win 20 games for the 14th consecutive season.
"There's no doubt in my mind about this team," Kapono said. "We can't sulk. We just have to be ready when they call our name Sunday."
Joe Shipp added 18 points for the Bears, who got six of their nine 3-pointers from Forehan-Kelly.
Cal bounced back from a stunning 99-53 loss at Arizona last Saturday.
"A lot of teams would've been doubting themselves," Braun said. "We managed to put a very tough loss behind us. We had to work awfully hard."
Barnes led UCLA with 15 points, and Kapono and Walcott each added 10.
The Bruins committed 19 turnovers, including six by freshman Cedric Bozeman and five by Walcott - not surprising because they averaged 18.5 miscues in splitting two games with Cal this season.
"We were pretty careless starting out," Kapono said. "We wanted to have a good showing. Maybe we were a little tense and maybe those turnovers were caused by that."
The Bears were especially effective in shutting down UCLA center Dan Gadzuric, who finished with six points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes. He was coming off a 22-point effort in a loss to Oregon last Saturday.
"They made a conscious effort to swarm him and cut down his catches and touches," UCLA coach Steve Lavin said.
Trailing 58-48, the Bruins scored eight straight points to get to 58-57 with 2:31 remaining. Walcott had six points, including a 3-pointer.
After Brian Wethers hit one of two free throws to put Cal ahead 59-57, Walcott tied it with 2:06 left.
"The kids did a great job of fighting from 10 down to tie the game," Lavin said. "In the first half, our 11 turnovers were something that put us in a hole."
UCLA won the first conference tournament in 1987. The Bears were 2-4 in the first four years of the tournament before it was dropped in 1991.
Despite playing in front of a rowdy partisan crowd at Staples Center, the Bruins couldn't sustain a rally long enough to stay in front.
A basket by Kapono provided UCLA's only lead, 35-34, early in the second half. Cal ran off straight, including consecutive 3-pointers by Forehan-Kelly, for a 43-35 lead.
Gadzuric dunked for his first points of the game, launching a 9-2 spurt that drew UCLA within one with 11:35 remaining.
But Forehan-Kelly stopped the Bruins with his sixth 3-pointer for a 48-44 lead.
The Bruins rallied twice from nine points down in the first half to trail 34-31 at the break. Barnes hit three 3-pointers and could've gotten UCLA closer, but was 1-of-4 from the line over the final 1:12.
UCLA wound up sixth in the regular-season standings, their worst ever finish in the conference. Their 65-62 loss to Oregon last Saturday kept them from grabbing a share of second.