UCLA Edges Out UC Riverside 66-65 Despite Coach Cronin’s Absence

In a thrilling showdown, UCLA narrowly secures victory in the absence of head coach Mick Cronin due to COVID-19.

In a nail-biting matchup, UCLA narrowly secured a 66-65 victory over UC Riverside, even in the absence of head coach Mick Cronin, who tested positive for COVID-19.

Key Takeaways:

  • UC Riverside employed a perimeter-oriented strategy, forcing UCLA to constantly switch on high ball screens.
  • Adem Bona fouled out after a short stint on the court, contributing as many turnovers as points.
  • Despite challenges, Dylan Andrews led the Bruins with 17 points, and Aday Mara showcased improved defensive skills.

In an intense showdown between UCLA and UC Riverside, the Bruins managed to clinch a heart-stopping 66-65 win, but not without facing a series of challenges. The game was notably marked by the absence of head coach Mick Cronin, who was sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 test. While Coach Cronin couldn’t be on the sidelines, his team fought valiantly to secure the victory.

Throughout the game, UC Riverside employed a perimeter-oriented strategy that kept UCLA on their toes. The Highlanders forced the Bruins to constantly switch on high ball screens, creating defensive challenges. Adem Bona, a key player for UCLA, faced a difficult night, fouling out after just 14 minutes on the court and tallying as many turnovers as points, with four of each.

Beyond the strategic challenges, UCLA had to contend with a barrage of three-pointers from UC Riverside, who connected on an impressive 14-of-32 attempts from behind the arc. The Bruins also suffered from inopportune injuries during the game. Berke Buyuktuncel rolled his ankle badly in the first half and did not return to the game. The severity of the injury remains unclear. Additionally, Sebastian Mack was visibly struggling, repeatedly falling on the floor during the second half. However, his last-second steal ultimately secured the victory for UCLA, though he had to be carried off the floor by two teammates due to an apparent injury.

Despite these obstacles, the Bruins demonstrated resilience and determination. Dylan Andrews emerged as a standout performer, leading the team with 17 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting from the field. Will McClendon also played a crucial role off the bench, contributing 11 important points. Aday Mara, in what might be considered his most complete game of his young career, notched 9 points and 4 rebounds. His ability to excel on defense and switch effectively onto smaller opponents marked a notable improvement in his performance.

As UCLA looks ahead, they will have over a week to recover and regroup before facing a significant non-conference challenge against Villanova on December 9. Coach Cronin’s absence was felt, but the team’s ability to overcome adversity and secure a hard-fought victory serves as a testament to their resilience and determination.

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Gary Lee

Gary Lee, a mainstay at LA Sports Report, is not just a sports writer; he's a veritable institution in the realm of sports journalism. With an extensive and illustrious career that boasts stints with notable platforms like Sports Illustrated, Gary has consistently showcased an uncanny knack for capturing the essence of the game, regardless of the sport. His prowess isn't limited to the written word alone; Gary's vast experience extends to creating and curating sports websites, providing fans with in-depth analysis, up-to-date news, and captivating stories. For readers keen on insights into the Clippers, Dodgers, Galaxy, Kings, LAFC, Lakers, Rams, UCLA, and USC, Gary is your go-to guy.
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