SEATTLE — Jordan Adams carried UCLA for the first 32 minutes. When leg cramps finally slowed him down, freshman Zach LaVine reminded his hometown school what it missed out on.
Adams scored a career-high 31 points, LaVine scored 11 of his 14 points in the final five minutes, and UCLA wrapped up the No. 2 seed in next week’s Pac-12 Conference tournament with a 91-82 win over Washington on Thursday night.
Adams scored 16 points in the first 12-plus minutes of the second half before having to sit with his legs cramping. When he returned, LaVine was taking over and ignoring the chants of “traitor” from the Washington fans.
LaVine’s closing punch included a three-point play off a Washington turnover with 1:24 left that gave the Bruins (23-7, 12-5 Pac-12) an 87-77 lead and finally put the Huskies away.
“I’ve seen a lot of those faces at some of my games before,” said LaVine, who played his high school ball in Bothell, Wash. “I know a lot of people up here. It’s still just a basketball game. I know they’re trying to get to me like I’m trying to win the game. It’s just the sport. I don’t get mad. I think it’s hilarious sometimes because I know after the game they’re going to text me and be like ‘good game.'”
The return home could not have gone much better for LaVine, who nearly chose Washington over UCLA. He had just three points at halftime, but made 4 of 6 shots in the second half and bridged the gap when Adams went to the bench.
“Zach, in the second half, he drove the basketball hard. He’s starting to do that better instead of just doing the jump shot thing,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “He’s starting to put the ball on the floor and drive.”
Ryan Anderson and Bryce Alford both finished with 12 points for the Bruins.
C.J. Wilcox led Washington (16-14, 8-9) with 20 points despite sitting for more than five minutes of the second half with foul trouble. Nigel Williams-Goss added 17 points. But Washington saw its hopes for a bye in the conference tournament end and is likely to land between a Nos. 6 and 9 seed next week in Las Vegas depending on how the final day of the conference season plays out.
The Huskies shot 55 percent and made 9 of 19 3-point attempts, but could not overcome allowing 23 points off of turnovers, 18 of those coming in the second half.
“Turnovers were definitely a catalyst to them getting going in the second half offensively,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Adams was extremely efficient, making 11 of 15 shots and 8 of 9 free throw attempts. He had major scoring binges in both halves, scoring 10 of UCLA’s first 14 points of the game and then scoring six points during a 2 1/2 minute stretch of the second half when UCLA put together its decisive run. His breakaway layup with 8:41 left gave the Bruins a 70-64 lead. Darin Johnson answered with a tough drive for Washington, but Tony Parker scored in the lane and Alford knocked down a 3-pointer for a 75-66 lead with 7:16 left, the biggest lead of the game for either team to that point.
Adams checked out and trainers worked on the muscles above and below both of his knees, appearing to try and loosen them.
With Adams out, Anderson scored on a lumbering drive through the lane to push the Bruins lead to nine, but the Huskies got within 77-71 on Williams-Goss’ driving layup. During a quick timeout by UCLA, Adams was taken back into the tunnel area behind the Bruins’ bench and returned just in time to see LaVine score on a drive to get the lead back to eight. Adams checked back in with the Bruins leading 79-73.
Two free throws from Wilcox got the Huskies within four, but LaVine answered with a twisting basket at the other end while also drawing Wilcox’s fourth foul, the start of six straight points by the Bruins that finished the Huskies.
“I just looked to be a little more aggressive. Sometimes it’s not my role to be aggressive or shoot or score but I just felt like we needed a little boost,” LaVine said.
The remarkable number was Washington shooting 59 percent in the first half and 55 percent for the game and losing. It was the first time Washington shot 55 percent for a game or higher and lost since 2008 against Florida.