It had been a while since the Washington Huskies had found themselves in a close game at crunch time.
They got one Thursday, as UCLA’s Mustafa Abdul-Hamid hit a buzzer-beater to give the Bruins a 62-61 win at Pauley Pavilion.
Washington’s previous five games had been settled with a double-digits margin of victory, and the lead hadn’t changed in the second half in any UW’s last seven games.
Against the Bruins, the lead changed 16 times, including three times on the final three possessions.
Washington seemed to have won it on a Venoy Overton runner in the final seconds, but UCLA hustled down court, got the ball to Abdul-Hamid just inside the top of the 3-point line and he drilled it.
UCLA started in a 2-3 zone, and the Huskies had early trouble getting inside of it. However, early in the game, they had considerable success shooting over it. The Huskies hit six of 12 3-pointers in the first half – two each by Scott Suggs, Elston Turner and Quincy Pondexer -- and went to the locker room ahead, 41-37.
However, the outside shooting went south in the second half, and Washington had trouble compensating in other way.
The Bruins edged back in front about 14 minutes from the end on a 3-pointer by Tyler Honeycutt, and the duel was on.
Washington (12-6 overall, 3-4 Pac-10) remains winless away from home this season. UCLA (8-10, 3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak.
The Bruins played without assists leader Jerime Anderson, who sat out with a hip flexor.
The Huskies will practice today at Galen Center on the USC campus, and will return to action against the Trojans at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
UCLA's Mustafa Abdul-Hamid hits a buzzer beater. I'll be back with notes and quotes.
2:40/2nd Even, 56-56.
11:59/2nd UW up, 47-46. Or rather, Huskies back up. UCLA actually nosed in front by a point on a Malcolm Lee 3-pointer. After a run of recent one-sided games, it looks like UW is in a close one this time.
Halftime: UW, 41-37. However, what is working for the Huskies most so far is outside shooting: two 3-pointers from Pondexter, Suggs and Turner. Overall, UW is 6-of-12 on treys. It'll be interested to see if they can continue anything like that for the next 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, the UW defense isn't near the force it was over the past two games at home. Bruins got lots of open guys around the basket and too many second-chance points.
Pondexter leads UW with 15 points. Guard Malcolm Lee leads UCLA with 10.
UCLA leads 12-11 on rebounds. Both teams have eight turnovers. UW shot 58.3 percent and UCLA 54.5.
First team to play defense wins.
11:51/1st Bruins open in 2-3 zone that gave UW trouble early as the Huskies tried to get inside it. However, they're doing a little better going over it, as Scott Suggs has a couple of threes and Elston Turner just hit one. UW, 17-16.
Tipoff: Apparently Justin Holiday has been cleared from his concussion just as coach Lorenzo Romar suspected, because Holiday is in his third consecutive starting lineup, along with Isaiah Thomas, Abdul Gaddy, Quincy Pondexter and Tyreese Breshers.
The lineup even includes a pair of Los Angeles natives: Holiday (technically, Chatsworth, Calif.) and Breshers. Also from the area: Darnell Gant.
Meanwhile, lots of empty seats tonight, as the rains and even flash-flood warnings continue down here.
Pregame: Two Bruins won't dress tonight: J'Mison Morgan (quad) and Jerime Anderson (hip flexor). Anderson had played in the previous 17 games, including 13 as a starter. He is the team's assists leader and averaged 6.2 ppg.
Hour till tip: Both teams are out on the court now. UCLA in home whites, UW in purple. However, the first guy out on the court tonight was Quincy Pondexter.
Welcome to Pauley Pavilion: The first thing greeting me as I walked into Pauley Pavilion tonight were some posters showing how the place John Wooden built (well, designed) will look once a major renovation is completed in 2012. (Here's a look.) My understanding is for the plan to be carried out in two stages. The exterior might look different by the time the Huskies arrive here next season. Then the interior will be ready for the 2012 visit.