UCLA shows a mix of potential and inexperience during close loss to No. 4 Marquette

Marquette guard Kam Jones (1) goes to the net between UCLA forward Adem Bona (3) and forward Berke Buyuktuncel (9) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) (Marco Garcia / Associated Press)

UCLA shocked fans with a dramatic performance reminiscent of NCAA tournament play against Marquette in a fierce contest demonstrating their potential as an emerging force to be reckoned with.

Following a thrilling game of fluctuating fortunes, UCLA faced a last-second defeat as the Golden Eagles secured a 71-69 victory at the Stan Sheriff Center in the Maui Invitational.

UCLA will be playing tournament host Chaminade on Thursday in a losers’ bracket game. After a dynamic start, a series of missed opportunities in the second half led to a narrow loss for the Bruins. Despite leading by 12 points, UCLA was unable to maintain their advantage, ultimately succumbing to Marquette (4-0).

UCLA’s fervent performance early in the game was eclipsed as the Golden Eagles demonstrated resilience, securing a well-earned victory. However, the game unveiled UCLA’s potential to be a formidable presence in upcoming tournaments, sparking hope for fans and supporters.

UCLA’s tournament journey is just beginning, and the team is eager to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

Mack finished with a career-high 25 points and sophomore center Adem Bona added 13 for the Bruins, who allowed Marquette (4-0) to shoot 54.2% in the second half.

UCLA earned a standing ovation from its fans early in the second half when Bona drove for a vicious two-handed dunk, giving the Bruins a 43-33 lead. The lead grew to 12 points after Mack drove for a tough, contested layup.

Marquette’s Oso Ighodaro drove for a dunk over Bona and Berke Buyuktuncel, igniting his team on a 17-0 run that included an assist from Bona for a ferocious elbow that earned him a technical foul. By the time Ighodaro threw down another dunk over Buyuktuncel, the Golden Eagles were up 46-45.

Read more: UCLA freshman Berke Buyuktuncel could play against Marquette after being cleared.


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