Monday, March 4, 2024

Pac-12 Tournament: Courtney Ramey’s 3 gives Arizona 2nd straight title over UCLA

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LAS VEGAS—The revenge tour is complete.

Courtney Ramey drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 16.8 seconds left to give Arizona its second straight Pac-12 title, beating top-seeded UCLA 61-59 on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

The second-seeded Wildcats (28-6) improved to 9-0 in revenge games under Tommy Lloyd, getting payback for a regular-season loss for the third time in as many games during the conference tournament. Arizona has now won nine Pac-12 tourney titles.

UCLA (29-5) had a chance to win it at the buzzer, after Azuolas Tubelis missed the second of two free throws with 5.8 seconds to go, but Dylan Andrews’ 3-point try was off the rim. As soon as it bounced, the Arizona-heavy #McKaleNorth crowd erupted.

Tubelis finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds, making 9 of 11 free throws. He was 5 of 17 from the field, missing all seven of his field goal attempts, but was 6 of 7 from the line a night after the UA as a team was 5 of 12 on foul shots in the semifinal win over ASU.

Ramey’s 3 was his only make of the night, and it came after Tubelis was off on a 3-point try but Pelle Larsson tapped out the rebound to the 5th-year transfer guard at the top of the key. Larsson finished with 11 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Oumar Ballo, who joined Tubelis (the MVP) on the All-Tournament team, had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Arizona shot 36.5 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3 but held UCLA to 36.7 and 21.1 percent shooting. The Bruins were without two starters, as wing Jaylen Clark missed the Pac-12 tourney with a leg injury and center Adem Bona, the conference’s Freshman of the Year, did not play after injuring his shoulder in the semifinals against Oregon.

In addition to missing Bona, UCLA had big men Mac Etienne and Kenneth Nwuba foul out but Arizona couldn’t take advantage inside, getting outscored 24-22. The Wildcats did have a 37-32 edge on the boards and limited UCLA to six second-chance points.

UCLA got 19 points from Amari Bailey, including a jumper with 2:52 left that gave the Bruins their last lead at 58-56, while Tyger Campbell had 16 and Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 14.

Campbell and Jaquez, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, combined to go 10 of 32.

Down 34-33 at the half, Arizona scored on its first possession but then went empty for almost four minutes, while UCLA built an 8-point lead at 43-35. During the drought the calls all went against the Wildcats, both offensively and defensively.

The UA trailed 46-37 after a Bailey 3 with 14:18 to go when Kerr Kriisa hit a 3, then on the next two possessions Ballo drew the fourth fouls on both Nwuba and Etienne in a 27-second span.

Eitenne fouled out with 9:35 left, and Larsson hit a 3 not long after to put Arizona back in front 50-48 to complete an 8-0 run. The lead was short lived, as UCLA scored six in a row and had a chance to make it bigger but Arizona’s defense clamped down in the halfcourt.

Kriisa swished a 3 to put the Wildcats ahead 55-54 with 5:23 left, its last lead until Ramey’s winning shot. Arizona had two other chances to go ahead in the final two minutes but turned it over, with Kriisa fouling out on a moving screen and Jaquez stealing it from Tubelis.

UCLA couldn’t capitalize, missing its final four shots, and when Ramey was called for a foul on Campbell with 5.8 seconds left the senior point guard made the first but missed the second, with Tubelis grabbing the rebound and getting fouled.

Offense was in short supply the first six-plus minutes, with Arizona not scoring for the first 3:33 and not getting its first basket until more than five minutes in. The pace picked up after that, with the teams combining to make 7 of 8 shots as the lead changed hands 12 times in the first half.

Arizona had multiple 4-point leads and then got up 27-22 on a pair of Tubelis free throws with 5:11 left, but UCLA went back in front on a 3-point play from Jaquez—with Tubelis getting his second foul on the play—with 3:05 to go.

The Bruins took a 1-point lead into the half on a baseline drive from Bailey in the final minute, on a play where it looked like he traveled, right after Larsson was called for steps on the other end.

Arizona now waits to see what its seed is and where it will play in the NCAA Tournament. The 2023 field will be announced Sunday at 3 p.m. MST.

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