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UCLA hits Sweet 16 and next meets UNC

PORTLAND, Ore. — Tyger Campbell scored 16 points and fourth-placed UCLA completed a more conventional path to the Sweet 16 by beating fifth-placed Saint Mary’s 72-56 in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.

UCLA (27-7), who made it from the First Four to the Final Four last season, hits eighth place North Carolina in the East Region semifinals in Philadelphia on Friday. The Tar Heels are the more surprising half of this blue-blooded couple, having defeated defending champion Baylor earlier on Saturday.

“We love to go out and compete and we only play to win,” said Johnny Juzang. “It’s the best feeling, especially in March, man. We are having so much fun.”

The Bruins lost star Jaime Jaquez Jr. 6:58 in the game due to a right ankle injury. He winced when teammates helped him off the field and later returned to the bench with an ice-wrapped ankle. Jaquez ended the first half with 15 points.

“We have until Friday before we play,” said coach Mick Cronin. “Jaime, if he can walk, he plays.”

UCLA players celebrate during their win over Saint Mary's.
UCLA players celebrate during their win over Saint Mary’s.
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Logan Johnson scored 18 points for Saint Mary’s (26-8), the only team in the West Coast Conference to defeat the No. 1 overall pick Gonzaga this season.

“It wasn’t one of our better games and you have to play well in the second round of the NCAA against a team like UCLA,” said Gaels coach Randy Bennett.

The Bruins went into the half 36-29, but the Gaels closed 38-37 on Alex Ducas’ 3-pointer early in the second half. Jules Bernard hit a 3 and a layup that pushed UCLA’s lead back to 48-41.

Juzang made three back-to-back jumpers that put the Bruins 54-44 at 9-41 left, and UCLA pulled away, leading by as much as 18 points down the stretch. Juzang finished with 14 points.

The Bruins were tested in the opening round against No. 13 Akron. The Zips led at halftime, but Campbell came to the rescue late in the second half with eight straight points for a 57-53 win.

Saint Mary’s hit three 3-pointers to take an early 16-9 lead. But the Bruins aligned with the Gaels’ skillful offense and knocked them out with physical defense — and an 11-2 run put UCLA 24-22 ahead.

Saint Mary’s was 0-for-12 from the field and had three turnovers during a stretch of more than six minutes late in the half.

“Our story shouldn’t have ended here,” said Mattias Tass, who scored 14 points. “But unfortunately it happened. We didn’t make such a great game. In these arenas, in these situations, you have to play well to win these games.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/19/march-madness-2022-ucla-reaches-sweet-16-will-face-unc-next/ UCLA hits Sweet 16 and next meets UNC

JOE HERNANDEZ

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