UCLA rallies to hold off Cal Poly 88-83 for 1st win
LOS ANGELES (AP) A double-digit lead erased. The opponent takes the lead. Things were suddenly looking sickeningly familiar for UCLA.
Two days after an embarrassing season-opening loss, the Bruins were on the ropes again. This time, they eked out a victory.
Thomas Welsh scored a career-high 22 points on 10 of 12 shooting and UCLA hung on to beat pesky Cal Poly 88-83 Sunday night. Tony Parker added 16 points and 14 rebounds - his second straight double-double - for the Bruins (1-1), who lost to Monmouth 84-81 on Friday after blowing leads of 13 points in regulation and five in overtime.
''The guards were finding me in great spots,'' Welsh said. ''I tried to knock those shots down.''
The Bruins got improved play from guards Bryce Alford, Aaron Holiday and Isaac Hamilton, who combined for 22 assists and six turnovers. Alford finished with 18 points, Holiday nine and Hamilton 11.
''I hammered those guards over the last forty-eight hours,'' UCLA coach Steve Alford said. ''We've got to develop that kind of consistency.''
Reese Morgan scored 20 points, hitting six 3-pointers, and Gonzaga transfer Luke Meikle added 16 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Mustangs (0-2). They lost their opener 74-72 at UNLV on Friday.
''We showed up at UNLV and we knew it was a big game, so we came out with a lot more intensity,'' Cal Poly coach Joe Callero said. ''Tonight we just didn't come out the same way. We only had a 90 percent effort.''
UCLA led by 15 early in the second half only to see the Mustangs tie the game at 67-all on a 3-pointer by Morgan. His basket capped a 23-8 run in which Morgan had two more 3-pointers and Meikle had a 3-point play and a 3-pointer. The Mustangs hit 13 3-pointers.
Cal Poly took its only lead of the game, 69-68, on Meikle's jumper.
''The first-half intensity just wasn't there,'' Morgan said. ''If we played like we played in the second half, we would have gotten the win.''
The Bruins' shaky free-throw shooting - 13 of 21 in the second half - and poor 3-point defense allowed Cal Poly to keep things close. The Mustangs closed to 73-71 before Welsh scored four straight points and Alford followed with three in a row to push UCLA's lead to 80-71.
''The three of us knew the first game was on us. We knew the three of us didn't play very well,'' Alford said of his fellow guards. ''We had a sense of urgency getting these guys the ball early. We played a lot better as a backcourt instead of three individual guards.''
The Bruins led 47-37 at halftime. The Mustangs used timely 3-point shooting to cut their deficit to four before UCLA pushed its lead back to double-digits with a 10-4 run heading into the break.
Cal Poly: The Mustangs return four seniors that have made a combined 311 appearances for the program. ... Cal Poly recorded the school's first win over a ranked opponent by beating then-No. 11 UCLA in November 2012.
UCLA: Jonah Bolden made his delayed college debut, with 11 points and five rebounds. The Aussie was held out of the opener for team disciplinary reasons. ''You can see the difference Jonah makes,'' the elder Alford said. ''There's a lot of things that he does that can help us.''
HITTING THE BOARDS
The Bruins followed up their 60-rebound performance against Monmouth with 42 against Cal Poly. The 60 was their highest single-game total since grabbing 61 against Portland on Dec. 14, 2002. Besides Parker's 14, Hamilton had nine, just missing a double-double.
RUN ALL NIGHT
Callero has changed up the Mustangs' offensive style this season, having them push the ball. ''We want to score and we want to run, whether we play UNLV or UCLA, it doesn't matter,'' he said. ''I'm not going to call timeouts to stop the run. Our guys just have to make the commitment to play hard.''
Cal Poly: Host Cal State Monterey Bay on Wednesday.
UCLA: Host Pepperdine on Thursday.