Friday, March 24, 2006

Championship a Bruin?

Down and just about out in the Sweet Sixteen, the UCLA Bruins erased a 17-point deficit and miraculously defeated Gonzaga, 73-71. (And it all happened while I was on a plane. Sigh.)

UCLA took its first lead after Cedric Bozeman and Jordan Farmar stole the ball from a Gonzaga player. Farmar passed to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who scored on the layup with 10 seconds left. On the inbounds, a Moute dove in to force a held ball, giving UCLA possession again. After a Bruin free throw, Gonzaga got one last chance to tie or win the game but missed, setting off a monstrous celebration.

And also bringing Gonzaga superstar Adam Morrison to tears. Morrison pulled his jersey over his head and collapsed on the floor in devastation. In the midst of the celebration, UCLA's Arron Afflalo and Ryan Hollins came up to Morrison to console him. At a time when a lot of athletes are so in your face and in a sport where trash talking is the norm, to see this classy act from Afflalo and Hollins was terrific.

So the Bruins are in the Elite Eight and need just one win to make it to the Final Four for the first time since winning the NCAA Championship in 1995. After tonight's game, I think another NCAA title could be in store for the Bruins. There are some similarities I'm seeing between this team and the '95 team in the Tournament. The miracle victory here is similar to the 95 team's miracle 2nd round win when Tyus Edney drove the full length of the court in 4.8 seconds for the game-winning layup. Both teams played in the Regionals at Oakland. I smell a national championship. We'll see on Saturday if the Bruins will have a chance for it when they play Memphis. Go Bruins!

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