UAB Blazers can't stop UCLA Bruins in 92-75 loss in NCAAs
TERESA M. WALKER
Mar. 21, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The UAB Blazers certainly have all the motivation they could need for what will be a painful offseason.
The 14th-seeded Blazers found themselves outrebounded and outscored inside and just couldn't knock down enough 3s Saturday before losing 92-75 to the 11th-seeded UCLA Bruins in the NCAA Tournament.
"It's not rocket science out there," coach Jerod Haase said. "We knew that the rebounding part of it was going to be a huge factor in the game, and we got beat up on the boards. ... We tried man. We tried zone. We tried man. We tried zone. We tried some different wrinkles. But at the end of the day, we were not able to guard."
The Blazers (20-16) missed out on their first regional semifinal since 2004 coming off their big upset of No. 3 seed Iowa State on Thursday. This marked a big turnaround for a program that was Division I's third-youngest at the start of the season and 4-9 when Conference USA play began.
"We came a long way," UAB guard Denzell Watts said. "It's a good feeling, but we came up short."
Haase just wrapped up his third season at a program he's building from the ground up, and three of his top five scorers were freshmen. He told the Blazers in the locker room to remember the joy of winning and the pain of this loss.
"We promised him," UAB freshman forward William Lee said. "And therefore we're going to work harder in the offseason. Hopefully get back to this point and hopefully make it to the Sweet 16."
Robert Brown led the Blazers with 25 points, and Lee added 10.
Making a season-high 12 3-pointers just wasn't enough for UAB with Tony Parker leading five Bruins in double figures with a career-high 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Kevon Looney had 10 points and 11 rebounds for UCLA. Bryce Alford had 22 points, Norman Powell 15 and Isaac Hamilton 13.
UCLA improved No. 11 seeds to a perfect 5-0 against 14 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, and the Bruins didn't need any questionable calls to win the program's second game as a double-digit seed.
The Blazers worried first about Alford who hit 9 of 11 from 3 to beat SMU, including a goaltending call on his final 3 to beat SMU in the last game. Parker had room to roam helping UCLA outrebound UAB 41-26 with a 52-22 scoring edge in the paint.
"All of those were baskets right around the rim and positions where our length was not going to be able to bother him because, if he's within 2 feet, he's going to be awfully effective," Haase said.
These teams came out shooting, and the Blazers didn't back off looking for a second straight upset. They shot 50 percent in the first half and hit six of 10 3-pointers and grabbed their biggest lead at 21-15 on a 3-pointer by Lee. Then the Bruins showed just how well a team can knock down shots, reeling off a 13-2 run to take back the lead.
At one point, UCLA connected on eight straight shots helped by Parker dunking and scoring in close. They took a 46-37 lead after Alford finally hit his first 3 with 17 seconds left. The Bruins came out of the locker room scoring eight of the first 11 points, and Looney scored six straight with his last basket giving UCLA a 54-40 lead not even 3 minutes into the half.
Consecutive 3s from Watts and Tyler Madison got UAB within 64-58 just before the midpoint of the half. Isaac Hamilton scored six straight for UCLA, the last a layup off a steal by Alford pushing the lead back to double digits. That was as close as the Blazers would get again.
UAB: The Blazers were 12 of 26 from outside the arc, topping the nine 3s they made in the C-USA Tournament championship on March 14. ... Madison and Tosin Mehinti were limited to a combined 13 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. ... UAB had only eight rebounds in the first half. ... Their last Sweet 16 berth came in 2004 when the Blazers beat Washington, then No. 1 seed Kentucky to advance.
UCLA: Parker turned in the most points by a Bruin in the tournament since Kevin Love had 29 against Western Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on March 27, 2008. It came one game after Alford had 27. ... The Bruins have shot 50 percent or better in nine games this season. They shot 60.3 percent (35 of 58).
UCLA: Gonzaga or Iowa in Houston on Friday.