Final Four: No 12th title for UCLA
SAN ANTONIO ó UCLA got sped up and out of the Final Four.
The bigger Memphis Tigers lured the defensive-minded Bruins into their speed trap and won 78-63 in Saturday night’s national semifinal matchup of No. 1 seeds, knocking the Bruins out of contention for a record 12th championship.
It was UCLA’s third failure in three years at the Final Four, having lost in the 2006 title game to Florida and then again to the Gators in last year’s semifinals.
“It’s disappointing,” coach Ben Howland said, “and there’s a lot of sad kids in that locker room right now.”
If John Wooden was watching back in Los Angeles, the 97-year-old architect of UCLA’s basketball dynasty must have been a little down. It certainly wasn’t the kind of showing expected from a school that practically invented the art of hanging national championship banners.
The Bruins came in 13-4 all-time in semifinal games, including 10-2 under Wooden. But they never managed a run against the Tigers in a rematch of the 1973 title game, when Bill Walton shot 21-of-22 for 44 points and the Bruins won.
Russell Westbrook led these Bruins (35-4) with 22 points. Freshman Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 12 points each. Mbah a Moute had 13 rebounds, while Love managed just nine against Joey Dorsey, who went scoreless and had 15 of Memphis’ 43 rebounds. The Bruins grabbed 36.
Darren Collison, a three-time Final Four veteran, went 1-for-9 with two points and fouled out. The junior who dictates UCLA’s offense had more fouls (11) than baskets (nine) in his last three NCAA tournament games.
The speed-crazy Tigers (38-1) crashed the boards and dunked pretty much at will against a UCLA team that hadn’t played such an athletic opponent all season. Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 28 points and vaunted freshman Derrick Rose added 25. The Tigers outscored the Bruins 14-2 in fastbreak points.
Westbrook scored inside to get the Bruins within nine early in the second half and ran back down the court waving his arms, exhorting his teammates.
Moments later, Rose stole a move out of Love’s playbook, sending an outlet pass to Antonio Anderson, who scored an easy layup for a 50-41 lead.
Soon after, Collison and Westbrook picked up their third fouls.
Douglas-Roberts dunked over Love, sending him and UCLA’s hopes crashing to the floor. Love nearly disappeared in the second half, when the Bruins went long stretches without scoring.
By Carolyn Glasgow Master Gardener Volunteer I used to say that there was no prettier place in the spring than... read more