Andrews saves the day as the Bruins defeat the Highlanders
December 7, 2023
For the first time in a long time, the UCLA Bruins were on the verge of losing on their home court. The University of California at Riverside (UCR) Highlanders trailed 55-44 with 8:27 left at the TV timeout on Thursday, November 30. The Highlanders rallied, taking the lead in the last minute of the game and had a 65-64 lead with ten seconds remaining in the game. Bruin's sophomore guard Dylan Andrews then saved the day.
With 9.5 seconds left in the game, Andrews took the in-bound pass and went coast-to-coast finishing with a driving bank shot with 3.2 seconds left to give the Bruins the lead and the win. The victory was the 29th in a row for the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion, the longest in the nation. With head coach Mick Cronin at home due to illness, assistant head coach Darren Savino was relieved to get the win.
"You don't have much time in the timeout, Savino said. "I figured [Andrews] would get downhill and make a play. So, I went with him instead of [Sebastian Mack] in that play. I think [Andrews] had some good moments. I thought he did a fairly good job today, especially on offense. Defense, I still want him to improve. Dylan's going to have to play like that in these games coming up. He's going to have to give us some minutes and scoring."
Andrews finished with 17 points and five assists, while Mack had eight points and was a little off in the game. Guard Will McClendon came off the bench to score 11 points, hitting 3 of 4 three-point shots. The Bruins did not get much from star power forward Adem Bona, who fouled out after playing only 14 minutes and scoring just four points.
"I want to hug him," Savino said. "He's just such a good guy and he tries so hard. The talks. The film. All the stuff. You can't make dumb fouls. Over-the-backs and illegal screens. Push, elbow. Even on that fourth foul, he saw the guy about to lay it in, [Bona] can't stop himself. I'm going to go block it. We survived with him playing 14 minutes. That was rough. I don't know what else to say other than he's got to slow down, relax and he can't get those fouls. He's not even getting those fouls on defense."
From the start of this game, it was easy to see that UCR was not night going to go quietly into the night. Despite being 18.5-point underdogs in the game, the Highlanders made the Bruins work for everything. They ran their halfcourt offense well, using the entire clock and hitting 14 of 32 three-point shots. They stayed with the Bruins on the boards. Guard Isaiah Moses led the Highlanders with 21 points, hitting 5 of 8 on three-point shots, with Kyle Owens adding 18 points, hitting 5 of 8 three-point shots.
"All credit to UC Riverside, they play really hard," Andrews said. "Fourteen (3-pointers) in a game is unbelievable and so we have to go back to the drawing board and just get ready for the next one. We've got a big one coming up (Villanova on Dec. 9)."
What the game showed is that UCLA needs to get tougher. As head coach Mick Cronin said after the Bruins win over Long Island University on November 15th, this team is young and needs to get tougher. "First of all, they have to adapt to the college basketball game," Cronin said. "And second, paying attention and sticking to game plans."
UCLA guard Jan Vide mentioned after the Long Island game that, "I'm still trying to get used to American basketball. It's much more physical, the defenses are stronger." The four freshmen on the Bruins from Europe are still adjusting to the physicality of the American college game. Center Aday Mara from Spain needs to become more physical.
The Bruins return to action on Saturday, December 9, to take on the Villanova Wildcats in Philadelphia. The game will start at 4:00 pm PST and will be televised on FOX. Villanova is known as a strong defensive team and in many ways, similar to the Bruins. UCLA will need to bring their toughness and defensive game to defeat Villanova in Philadelphia and they stay on the road to face Ohio State on December 16 at 12 p.m. Their next home games are December 19, against Cal State Northridge at 7 p.m. and Maryland on December 22, at 6 p.m.