Dylan Andrews hits game-winner as UCLA barely beats UC Riverside with Mick Cronin out

Dylan Andrews hits game-winner as UCLA barely beats UC Riverside with Mick Cronin out

UC Riverside with Mick Cronin out

In an unexpected turn of events on Thursday night, UCLA’s head coach, Mick Cronin, found himself in a challenging situation. Despite being among the privileged few with access to the Pac-12 Network, Cronin, who was home sick with COVID-19, witnessed his team facing a tough battle against UC Riverside, a team with a subpar record in the Big West Conference.

The Bruins encountered multiple obstacles during the game. Star player Adem Bona faced early foul trouble, the defense struggled to contain open shots, and the team faced difficulties in scoring from long range. The situation took a turn for the worse when freshman forward Berke Buyuktuncel, a crucial spark for the team, suffered a foot or ankle injury, necessitating his exit from the game.

Despite adversity, the Bruins rallied. Bona fouled out, leaving UCLA trailing by a single point with only 10 seconds remaining. In a critical moment, sophomore guard Dylan Andrews made a clutch floating jumper with 3.2 seconds left, allowing UCLA to reclaim the lead and preserve their nation-leading home winning streak, now extended to 29 games.

The victory, however, came at a cost. Buyuktuncel, who had provided a significant impact before his injury, couldn’t return to the game. The celebration was subdued as another freshman, Sebastian Mack, got injured on the final play and had to be assisted off the court.

Andrews, rebounding from a recent poor shooting performance, emerged as a key player with 17 points, making seven of 12 shots, including three three-pointers. Will McClendon contributed 11 points, showcasing improved three-point shooting compared to the previous year.

Despite the challenges, there’s a silver lining for the Bruins. They have a break until their next game against Villanova on Dec. 9, potentially allowing time for the return of Coach Cronin and the recovery of injured players Buyuktuncel and Mack. The victory, though painful, serves as a testament to the team’s resilience in overcoming adversity on their home court.

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