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March 7, 2008
UCLA survives Stanford
LOS ANGELES(AP) UCLA needed an extra five minutes to chop down the Lopez twins.
Stymied most of the game by the 7-foot brothers, the third-ranked Bruins broke out in overtime and defeated No. 7 Stanford 77-67 Thursday night to clinch the Pac-10 title outright.
The Bruins (27-3, 15-2) won their third consecutive regular-season title on their home court for the first time in three years and put themselves in solid position to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
"It feels great. We're going to soak it all up," said Kevin Love, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds for his 19th double-double.
UCLA's 27th regular-season win was its most in school history and Ben Howland became the first Bruins coach since John Wooden to win three straight league titles. That's a streak the Bruins haven't had since doing so in 1995, '96 and '97.
Darren Collison tipped in his own miss with one hand from the right side for the go-ahead basket in overtime. He finished with 24 points.
"When you want to win something so bad, everything works in your favor," Collison said. "That was a great team. Stanford gave us their best shot."
Russell Westbrook added 19, eight in overtime, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"They played well for 42 minutes and came up short. I feel for them," Stanford coach Trent Johnson said. "We had a couple breakdowns, definitely in blocking out."
Tied at 63 after regulation, the Bruins dominated overtime by outscoring the Cardinal 14-4. Brook Lopez and Mitch Johnson scored Stanford's only baskets and Anthony Goods committed an intentional foul on Westbrook.
Mbah a Moute dunked off Collison's pass to put UCLA up 65-63, its first lead since starting the game 2-0. From there, the Bruins rolled in front of 12,671 cheering fans.
UCLA ran off eight straight points - four each by Westbrook and Love - to close within three points with 3:17 remaining in regulation.
Finger scored four straight for the Cardinal, including a shot that banked in for a 60-55 lead.
Mbah a Moute scored and Westbrook hit a layup to draw the Bruins within one. Love fouled Brook Lopez, who made the first and missed the second for a 61-59 lead.
Westbrook got fouled in the scramble for Lopez's miss and hit both free throws to tie the game at 61. Lawrence Hill hit a jumper with 7 1/2 seconds left for a 63-61 lead, but he fouled Collison at the other end.
Collison made both with 2 1/2 seconds left to force overtime.
The 7-foot Lopez twins combined with 6-8 starting forward Hill to make the inside mostly impenetrable for the Bruins, who needed most of the game to recover and win their sixth in a row.
"It was good and physical," Brook Lopez said about playing Love. "He got rough and we kept playing. It was a lot of fun. I should have gone up stronger. I should have finished more."
Love took the brunt of the Lopez brothers, alternately pushing and shoving the 2-inch taller twins in the post.
"It's like the walking trees from `Lord of the Rings'. They gobble up rebounds," Love said about the twins. "I had a lot of help from my teammates. We did a great job on them."
The Bruins were held to a season-low 18 points in the first half, when they shot 7-of-22 from the floor. They staggered through a 5 1/2-minute scoreless stretch when the Lopez twins either altered UCLA's shots or the Bruins hurt themselves with shots that rimmed out and turnovers.
The Cardinal raced to a 12-2 lead and extended it to 28-14 on a run of seven straight. Stanford lost for the first time this season after leading at halftime.
"We tried to come out and win the game in the first five minutes," Love said.
Robin Lopez's basket pushed Stanford's lead back to 14 early in the second half. Then Love hit a 3-pointer to launch a 25-13 run that left the Bruins trailing 45-43 with 9 1/2 minutes left. Collison scored 11 points in the spurt.
But the Cardinal answered right back with an 11-2 run that kept them ahead 56-45. The Lopez brothers combined for nine points.
Then Love, Westbrook and Collison took over and propelled the Bruins into overtime.
"We kept pushing past the adversity," Love said.
Jack Nicholson sat behind the Bruins' bench, and Jim Harrick, who coached UCLA to its last national championship in 1995, also was there.