LOS ANGELES — The No. 10 UCLA Bruins pulled out the late win. Early dominance led them to victory, winning their eleventh straight game by beating their crosstown foe, the USC Trojans, 60-58.
Early in the matchup, Adem Bona leaped up and blocked Kobe Johnson’s layup, then slammed in a transition dunk as Pauley Pavilion erupted with cheers.
It was evident to the home crowd that early momentum was in the Bruins’ favor.
They followed with 13 more unanswered points. The Bruins built a 18-point.
Bona was dominating the glass as his team led the Trojans in offensive rebounds nine-to-one. However, he fell into foul trouble early in the second half with three fouls, forcing him to sit out for a few minutes. Shortly after, Tyger Campbell picked up his third foul and was also placed on the bench allowing the Trojans to cut into the Bruins’ lead.
Even after the duo returned to the game, the Trojans rallied to lead with over a minute left. Then, the Bruins displayed their resilience to grab the victory.
Jaylen Clark was the hero.
After missing a three-pointer with less than 20 seconds left, he was given a second chance by David Singleton, who grabbed an offensive rebound. Clark swished it to give his team a one-point lead.
“When I saw [Singleton] had it, I knew it was going in my head, before I even caught it,” he said.
In the final seconds, Clark was not afraid to be in the spotlight as he was the entire game. He was aggressive on both ends of the floor, displaying impressive spins around the basket to score. He was also active defensively while forcing turnovers.
Clark ended with 15 points, five rebounds, and one steal.
Also imposing was Bona, who showcased his talent in the paint. The freshman center sought easy baskets and blocks. He also defended outside the three-point line to pressure the Trojans.
Bona ended with eight points, ten rebounds, and two blocks.
Jaime Jaquez and Singleton also chipped in with 12 points each.
The Trojans’ rebounding challenges harmed them in their loss. With over 18 minutes left, Boogie Ellis and Tre White collided on a defensive rebound attempt causing the ball to go out-of-bounds and giving the Bruins the ball back. Similar struggles were common during the Trojans’ difficult evening.
They were out-rebounded by the Bruins 36-30.
“That’s the only reason we won tonight,” Clark said. “At least we grabbed rebounds… That’s the game right there.”
In the end, the Trojans failed to grab the ball when they needed a rebound after Clark’s miss. He made them pay.
Reese Dixon-Waters was spectacularly efficient in the Trojans’ comeback. The sophomore guard rallied the Trojans in the second half by making challenging looks after attempting one shot in the first half.
Dixon-Waters scored 16 points by making all seven of his shots. He also grabbed four rebounds.
Harrison Hornery also contributed with a couple of baskets down the stretch. He scored six points and made both of the two field goals he tried.
The Trojans’ usual contributors, Drew Petersen and Ellis, also chipped in by scoring ten and nine points, respectively.
They moved to 3-2 in PAC-12 conference play and 11-5 on the season. The Trojans will face the Colorado Buffaloes next Thursday.
The win makes the Bruins an undefeated 5-0 in PAC-12 conference play and 14-2 on the season. They will match up against the Utah Utes next Thursday.