UCLA turns away Saint Mary’s 72-56, returns to Sweet 16

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. — Tyger Campbell scored 16 points and fourth-seeded UCLA completed a more conventional path to the Sweet 16, beating fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s 72-56 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

UCLA (27-7), which went all the way from the First Four to the Final Four last season, will face eighth-seeded North Carolina on Friday in the East Region semifinals in Philadelphia. The Tar Heels are the more surprising half of that blueblood pair after they beat defending champion Baylor earlier Saturday.

The Bruins lost star Jaime Jaquez Jr. to a right ankle injury with 6:58 in the game. He winced as he was helped off the court by teammates and later returned to the bench with his ankle wrapped in ice. Jaquez finished with 15 points, all in the first half.

Logan Johnson scored 18 points for Saint Mary’s (26-8), the only team in the West Coast Conference to beat No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga this season.

The Bruins took a 36-29 lead into halftime but the Gaels closed within 38-37 early in the second half on Alex Ducas’ 3-pointer. Jules Bernard hit a 3 and a layup that pushed UCLA’s lead back to 48-41.

Johnny Juzang made three consecutive jumpers that put the Bruins up 54-44 with 9:41 left and UCLA pulled away, leading by as many as 18 points down the stretch. Juzang finished with 14 points.

The Gaels hit three 3-pointers to jump out to an early 16-9 lead. Shutting down Saint Mary’s with physical defense, the Bruins went on an 11-2 run to pull in front 24-22.

Saint Mary’s was 0-for-12 from the field and had three turnovers during a stretch of more than seven minutes toward the end of the half.

BIG PICTURE

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels downed all three of their common opponents with UCLA this season – Oregon, Gonzaga and Bellarmine. The Bruins fell to Gonzaga and twice to the Ducks. The 18th-ranked Gaels earned their highest seed in 11 NCAA Tournament appearances but fell short of their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2010.

UCLA: The Bruins are 11-2 all-time against Saint Mary’s, but the teams had not played since 1990. … UCLA is making its 51st tournament appearance. The Bruins have a record 11 national titles.