UCLA beats Northwestern 68-63 and advances to Sweet 16


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The best news for UCLA came after the Bruins wrapped up their second-round win over Northwestern.

Key guard David Singleton didn’t fracture his ankle when he went down with an injury late Saturday night in UCLA’s 69-63 win over Northwestern, giving the Bruins hope he could potentially return when they play at the Sweet next week 16 play .

“I knew it wasn’t that bad,” said Singleton, who suffered pain on the pitch for a few minutes before being helped to the dressing room. “I broke my foot before. I didn’t feel it or anything. It just hurt right now. I’m doing well. I’ll just get together with my coach.”

Coach Mick Cronin said the injury brought back bad memories of two decades ago when he was an assistant at Cincinnati and star Kenyon Martin broke his leg just before the tournament.

Now he’s hoping to put Singleton back in a thin lineup already missing injured defensive stopper Jaylen Clark.

“I had flashbacks running out there with my hair all over my head in the spring of 2000 and playing Kenyon Martin there,” Cronin said. “Looks like he’s got a bad sprain. …I’m just glad he didn’t break his ankle. It’s been crazy for us here lately.”

Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 24 points and UCLA held off a second-half push from Northwestern to return to the Sweet 16.

The second-seeded Bruins (31-5) turned up the defensive intensity late and held the seventh-seeded Wildcats to a 1-on-12 shootout during a crucial late-game period to seal the win.

“We started to get up, switch to them and put the pressure back on like we did in the first half,” Jaquez said. “I think we shied away from that in the second half (early) with only light changes. I think we picked it up a lot more.”

UCLA made it to a third straight Sweet 16 for the first time in 15 years. The Bruins play the winner of Sunday’s game between Gonzaga and TCU in the West Region semifinals in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

Amari Bailey added 14 points and Tyger Campbell scored 12 for UCLA.

Boo Buie scored 18 points to give Northwestern (22-12) a lead, Matthew Nicholson added 17, and Chase Audige scored all 16 of his points in the second half.

“I wasn’t surprised at how we played in the second half because those were those guys, that’s been our team all year,” said coach Chris Collins. “We have a fighting spirit. … I couldn’t have been prouder of my boys.”

The Wildcats ended their second trip to the tournament the same way they did their first six years ago, losing in the second round.

They put up a good fight against the more tournament-hardened Bruins and had one chance until they went cold late in the game.

The key moment came in the last two minutes when Adem Bona blocked a drive from Audige and sent UCLA into the substitution. David Singleton hit the 3-pointer that put the Bruins 62-56 at 1:50.

UCLA controlled the game early and extended the big lead by neutralizing Northwestern’s scoring backcourt with Buie and Audige and tapping out Jaquez in the transition.

Buie eventually made his first basket of the game with a drive just before the buzzer to reduce UCLA’s lead to 35-25 at the break.

With 14 points in the first eight minutes, Audige started the second half. The Wildcats tied it at 45 when Buie was credited with a basket for a goaltender call midway through the half.

But they couldn’t close the deal.

“That’s what we wanted, an eight-minute fight,” Collins said. “Believe the UCLA recognition. Every time we went for a run, they made big plays.”

Northwestern: The Wildcats dropped records over the next five seasons after their first tournament appearance. Collins brought her back to second place in the Big Ten in the regular season and now wants to build from there.

UCLA: Bona returned after missing the last two games with a left shoulder injury. He aggravated the injury on a second-half dunk and immediately went to the bench, but returned to the game and had the key block late. His presence will be crucial next weekend.

UCLA is two wins away from their 20th Final Four appearance.

AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap- top-25 college basketball poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25


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