Aaron Holiday’s 21 points and six assists Thursday night enabled UCLA to avoid what would have been a bad home loss against Pac-12 Conference rival California, as the Bruins rallied for a 70-57 win at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Jaylen Hands added 14 points for the Bruins (14-7, 5-4 Pac-12), while Kris Wilkes scored 10. UCLA got back above .500 in the conference despite shooting just 41.7 percent from the field and only 5 of 20 on 3-point attempts.
Justice Sueing led all scorers with 24 points and added eight rebounds for the Golden Bears (7-14, 1-7), while Marcus Lee chipped in 13. Kingsley Okoroh pulled in a game-high 14 boards before fouling out as California won the rebounding battle 41-34.
However, the Golden Bears shot miserably, connecting on just 22 of 62 field-goal tries (35.5 percent) and going 4 of 16 from 3-point range. UCLA also enjoyed a big advantage at the foul line, hitting 25 of 32 while California made only 9 of 16.
Leading 54-51 after a Lee tip-in with 6:22 left, the Bruins finally gained separation with a 7-0 run. Hands converted a pair of free throws and then dunked in transition, and Holiday capped the spurt with a 3-pointer at the 5:05 mark to make it a 10-point game.
The first half was basically two games divided into 10-minute chunks. California dominated the opening part, scoring the first six points and then going on a 21-8 run to establish a 27-14 lead at the 9:50 mark on a 3-pointer by Sueing.
Making matters worse for the Bruins, they lost 7-foot senior center Thomas Welsh less than a minute later to a leg injury when he landed on the foot of the Golden Bears’ Roman Davis after contesting Davis’ jumper. Welsh was helped off the floor and didn’t return until the second half.
However, the Bruins made a big push without their big man, closing the half with a 24-4 burst and holding Cal scoreless for more than eight minutes. A foul shot by Hands with 20 seconds remaining sent UCLA to the locker room with a 38-31 advantage.
—Field Level Media