Saturday, April 13

UCLA men’s basketball nets 21-point victory over Bellarmine

Freshman forward Adem Bona dunks the ball. Bona notched a career-high 16 points in No. 19 UCLA men’s basketball’s win over Bellarmine on Sunday. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Men’s basketball

No. 19 UCLA81

This post was updated Nov. 27 at 9:30 p.m.

The Bruins held a six-point lead midway through the first half when Adem Bona checked in for his second stint of the afternoon.

A couple buckets, an assist, and a steal later for the freshman forward and the lead had ballooned to 17.

After Bona kicked off a 13-2 run in the first half, No. 19 UCLA men’s basketball (5-2) ran away with an 81-60 win over Bellarmine (2-5) in Pauley Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. Bona tallied a career-high 16 points in his sixth straight start for the blue and gold.

“It was amazing. I’ve been waiting for that all year, and it happened today,” Bona said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”

Both teams struggled to put the ball through the hoop early. At the under-12 media timeout, Bellarmine was shooting just 2-of-9 from the field and 1-of-7 from deep with seven turnovers.

Despite the Knights going more than five minutes without a basket in the first half, the Bruins failed to separate until Bona returned to the floor.

Redshirt senior guard Tyger Campbell generated a steal off a full-court press before tossing the ball right up to Bona for an alley-oop, capping off a 6-0 spurt in 44 seconds and igniting a string of impact plays for the freshman forward.

While junior guard Jaylen Clark, who leads the Pac-12 in steals, missed Sunday’s game because of an illness, UCLA still posted 15 steals.

“We wanted to really come out with a defensive presence,” Campbell said. “Not having J (Clark), who leads the Pac-12 in steals, you’re missing something big. But we’re just trying to get up full court, trying to pressure them into mistakes.”

On UCLA’s ensuing possession, Bona drew two defenders down low before kicking a feed to the top of the key that ultimately made its way around the perimeter and into the hands of freshman guard/forward Abramo Canka for a 3-pointer in the corner.

The Bruins quickly got the ball back as Bona added two more to his tally with a bank shot in the paint. He then slipped a screen and found a cutting senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. for an easy two before notching a steal on the other end.

By the time Bona had returned to the bench less than five minutes into his stint, a six-point lead had grown to 17.

Senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. goes up for a shot in the paint. Jaquez led all scorers with 27 points in the game. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Bellarmine began to heat up from outside the perimeter late in the first half, but the Knights couldn’t keep up with Jaquez and Bona’s 23 combined points in the frame as the Bruins entered the break with a 16-point advantage.

“It was just our preparation going into practice, knowing what we need to do to put the ball in the basket,” Jaquez said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can score every time, but … we’re starting to realize that the more you move the ball, the more easy buckets that you’re allowed to get.”

Jaquez picked up right where he left off after pacing UCLA in scoring in the first half, notching eight quick points early in the second half on 4-of-4 shooting to bring his individual total to 23 on the afternoon.

But then it was right back to Bona. Bellarmine had once again cut into UCLA’s double-digit lead until Bona caught a couple more lobs and added a pair of blocks to give the Bruins insurance heading into the closing minutes of the game. By the final whistle, Bona had totaled a game-high plus/minus of +25.

“We finally got Adem the ball on some lobs,” said coach Mick Cronin.

Jaquez and Bona shouldered the majority of the scoring load for the Bruins with 43 points, while the rest of UCLA’s starters combined for 27 points. Campbell didn’t make a field goal until late in the second half and shot just 2-of-8, but with a game-high 10 assists, he reached the 500-assist mark in his career with the blue and gold – becoming just the eighth player in program history to reach 1,000 points and 500 assists.

In a game in which UCLA shot a season-high 60.8% from the field, Cronin credited his team’s 26 assists.

“Our passing was off the charts,” Cronin said. “If we would ever pass the ball and continue to get 26 assists, we’ll continue to shoot 61%. Our passing was awesome.”

Sports editor

Settleman was the 2022-2023 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.

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