No. 23 UCLA pulls away from UC Irvine
Thomas Welsh recorded a double-double, Prince Ali scored a career-high 21 points and No. 23 UCLA beat back a pesky UC Irvine 87-63 on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Welsh scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as all five starters scored in double figures for the Bruins (5-1).
The Anteaters (3-5) didn’t have an answer for Ali, who was making his first start of the season. On UCLA’s first possession, Ali connected on a 3-pointer from the corner and was fouled. He completed the four-point play and the Bruins were off and running.
Aaron Holiday, the Bruins’ leading scorer coming into the game at 17.2 points per game, finished with 16 points, four rebounds and seven assists. He also played a crucial role on the defensive end by shutting down Max Hazzard, who led Irvine with 18 points.
UCLA was coming off a split at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, where it lost to Creighton on Monday and defeated Wisconsin on Tuesday.
UC Irvine was playing its third game in less than 72 hours. The Anteaters faced Rider in the nightcap of the Las Vegas Invitational on Thursday night, a 90-82 loss, before beating Northern Arizona 77-71 just 15 hours later.
Irvine went toe-to-toe with UCLA for the first 10 minutes and led 9-5. It was tied at 15-all at the 10:50 mark, but the Anteaters seemed to run out of gas as the Bruins opened up a 14-point lead on a jumper by Ali.
The Bruins led 38-29 to start the second half abut Hazzard made four 3-pointers to cut the Anteaters’ deficit to 45-43 in the first four minutes.
UCLA woke up and scored 10 straight to go ahead 55-43 on a layup by Holiday. A 3-pointer by Holiday pushed the lead to 65-48 and the Bruins had weathered the storm.