Alford, Welsh lead UCLA past UNLV 77-75 at Maui Invitational
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) UCLA was nearly perfect from the free throw line and that got the Bruins a berth in the semifinals of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
Bryce Alford and Thomas Welsh scored 20 points each, and UCLA went 10 for 10 from the foul line over the final 90 seconds and 23 of 24 overall in a 77-75 victory over UNLV on Monday night.
Aaron Holiday made eight of the closing free throws and Welsh added two for the Bruins (2-1), who play No. 5 Kansas, a 123-72 winner over Chaminade, in the semifinals on Tuesday.
''Yeah, that's huge. It's something we talk about a lot as a team,'' Alford said. ''Our goal is to shoot 80 percent as a team every game. We haven't been doing that exactly. So for us to come into tonight in a close game like that and shoot 23 for 24, you can make the argument that that's what won us the game. It's a huge job for the guards and for everybody to get to the line and make free throws.''
UCLA took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Isaac Hamilton that made it 67-65 with 3:21 to play. The Bruins then went to work at the free throw line led by Holiday, who finished with 18 points.
''I thought Bryce and Tom were just terrific all night,'' said coach Steve Alford, Bryce's father. ''It was a game I couldn't give Bryce any kind of blow because of the pressure, so we've got some concerns moving forward with that. But I thought both of them showed a lot of toughness.''
Patrick McCaw had 20 points for the Runnin' Rebels (3-1), including two 3s in the final 6 seconds. The second came with 0.5 seconds to play and made it 77-75.
''We've got a team that's very disappointed with the outcome,'' UNLV coach Dave Rice said. ''We played hard for the entire game. We just went through some stretches where we didn't execute as well as we needed to execute against their zone.''
Stephen Zimmerman Jr. had 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for UNLV, which didn't score from the 6-minute mark until Zimmerman's rebound basket with 44 seconds left made it 71-67. The Runnin' Rebels missed four shots from the field, one free throw and committed two turnovers in that span.
The game was sloppy throughout, with UCLA committing 19 turnovers and UNLV 16.
''To go 23 for 24 at the line, that will win you a lot of basketball games,'' Steve Alford said. ''Obviously, we turned the ball over too many times. That's something we've got to continue to work on, but for an early-season game, to win a game like this, this is really good for us.''
Welsh finished 9 of 12 from the field.
''I think the guards did a phenomenal job of finding me when I was open,'' he said. ''The coaches tell me to be ready whenever the guards go to the basket.''
UNLV was 14 of 22 from the free throw line.
The Runnin' Rebels went 9 of 29 from 3-point range, while the Bruins were 4 of 10.
''I feel very confident about this team,'' McCaw said. ''We're very deep. We've got a lot of confident guys and great coaching staff. We executed. We showed that we're a great team. We're just going to get ready and prepare for tomorrow's game.''
UNLV: This is the Runnin' Rebels' third appearance in the Maui Invitational and they are 3-4 in the tournament. ... Goodluck Okonoboh was called for goaltending on consecutive UCLA possessions, giving the Bruins a 27-22 lead. ... Both teams had a nine-point lead in the first half, the Runnin' Rebels early and UCLA late on the way to a 41-35 halftime lead.
UCLA: The Bruins won the first four meetings with UNLV. ... UCLA won the Maui Invitational in 2006 with a roster that featured five future NBA players, including Russell Westbrook. ... Tony Parker was limited to 6 minutes in the first half after picking up his third personal foul. He had a double-double in the Bruins' first three games, the first player to do that since Bill Walton, who is here as an analyst for ESPN, opened 1973-74 with nine straight. Parker, who got his fourth foul in the opening minute of the second half, finished with two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.
UNLV: Chaminade in the consolation round of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday.
UCLA: No. 5 Kansas in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday.