Tyger Campbell’s 16 points led a balanced UCLA attack Saturday as the fourth-seeded Bruins pulled away from fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s for a 72-56 East Region win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Portland, Ore.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 15 before leaving the game with an ankle injury at the 6:58 mark of the second half. He returned to the bench with a warmup shirt over his game jersey moments later. His status for Friday night’s matchup with eighth-seeded North Carolina in Philadelphia wasn’t known at the game’s conclusion.
UCLA (27-7) also got 14 points each from Jules Bernard and Johnny Juzang. The Bruins canned 56.5 percent of their shots against one of the best defensive teams remaining in the field and committed only six turnovers.
“Every game is tough,” Juzang said afterward. “If you’re in this tournament, you can play, so you can’t take any game lightly. We took care of business and got out of the first two rounds.”
Logan Johnson scored a game-high 18 points for the Gaels (26-8), while Matthias Tass added 14. Tommy Kuhse contributed 11 points and six assists, while Alex Ducas hit for 11 points but made only 4 of 12 shots.
UCLA’s defense, which coach Mick Cronin has criticized at times during the season, limited Saint Mary’s to 40.8 percent shooting from the field and controlled the Gaels’ usually precise halfcourt offense over the last 30 minutes.
The Bruins took command in the final 15 minutes. After Ducas connected on a 3-pointer 4 1/2 minutes into the second half to pull Saint Mary’s within 38-37, Bernard scored eight points in a stretch of 2:26 to give them a 48-41 lead.
Juzang took over from there with six straight points to make it 54-44 with 9:52 left and UCLA locked it down, even after Jaquez departed the game.
The Gaels had their way early, carving up the Bruins in the first 10 with their typical crisp execution and solid halfcourt defense. Tass converted two foul shots with 10:16 on the clock for a 20-13 lead.
However, UCLA responded by dominating the last 10 minutes behind Jaquez, who scored all his points in the first half. It rattled off 13 straight points for a 30-22 advantage and took a 36-29 cushion to intermission.