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Kyle Wiltjer leads Zags to victory over UCLA

GU leads all the way to hand Bruins first home loss of season

UPDATED: Sat., Dec. 13, 2014

LOS ANGELES — Kyle Wiltjer scored 24 points and No. 9 Gonzaga led all the way in beating UCLA 87-74 on Saturday night, snapping the Bruins’ four-game overall winning streak and handing them their first home loss. Byron Wesley added 20 points for the Zags (9-1) in his homecoming after starring three seasons at Southern California. He shot 7 of 8 from the field and had nine rebounds and four assists. Bryce Alford scored 23 points and Isaac Hamilton added 18 for UCLA (8-3), which got blown out by North Carolina in its only other game against a ranked opponent. The Bruins had won their first seven home games by an average of 20.1 points, but none of those opponents were as good as the Zags. Gonzaga shot 59 percent in the first half, leading 38-27 at the break. The Bruins, who shot 32 percent, trailed by 12 for a stretch before cutting their deficit to six only to see the Zags push it back to double digits. UCLA didn’t take a shot in the final 2:09. The Bruins never got closer than six points in the second half, outscoring the Zags 7-2 to start, with Isaac Hamilton scoring four and Kevon Looney three. Looney finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. The Zags answered by running off eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Gary Bell Jr. and Wiltjer, to lead 48-34. Gonzaga’s defense stifled the inexperienced Bruins, who couldn’t get their transition game going. On the other end, UCLA had trouble getting a stop, with the Zags scoring nearly every trip down the floor. Przemek Karnowski’s layup gave Gonzaga its largest lead of 17 points. Wiltjer and Bell hit consecutive 3s again and the 7-foot-1 Karnowski added a pair of free throws, extending Gonzaga’s lead to 69-53. UCLA made one last run, outscoring the Zags 10-2 behind five points by Alford to get to 71-63. But Kevin Pangos hit a 3-pointer before Wesley blocked Norman Powell, the Bruins’ lone senior who had stolen the ball and was driving to the basket. UCLA was limited to three baskets in the final five minutes, which turned into a free throw shooting contest.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs played their third straight Pac-12 opponent, having lost to ranked Arizona and beaten Washington State. … They will host UCLA next December as part of the home-and-home series. UCLA: Coach Steve Alford was denied his 500th victory. He fell to 499-247. … Tony Parker was the only starter not in double figures. He finished with five points, nine rebounds and four fouls. … The Bruins’ 27 points tied a season low in the first half. … UCLA alum Jimmy Connors sat next to baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, while former UCLA star Jamaal Wilkes was courtside near “Twilight” actor Taylor Lautner.
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