SAN DIEGO — In the end there would be no 16-point play for Stephen F. Austin.
Instead it was UCLA securing a spot in the Sweet 16.
The Bruins defeated Stephen F. Austin 77-60 in Sunday’s third-round South Region NCAA Tournament game. No. 4-seeded UCLA next faces overall No. 1-seeded Florida on Thursday in Memphis for a spot in the Elite Eight.
Stephen F. Austin, seeded 12th, had become one of the NCAA Tournament darlings with Friday’s dramatic overtime win against Virginia Commonwealth, when the Lumberjacks tied the game on a four-point play with 3.3 seconds left in regulation.
But UCLA (28-8) was not eager to allow Stephen F. Austin (32-3) to write another compelling chapter at its expense. Instead it forged ahead by 10 at halftime, went up by 17 about midway through the second half and cruised in for the victory to snap the Lumberjacks’ 29-game winning streak.
The Bruins, who face an old NCAA Tournament nemesis in Florida, head for their first Sweet 16 since 2008, when they advanced to the Final Four for the third straight season. In two of those trips, there were ousted by the Gators and that includes the 2006 title game.
But UCLA is living in the present and that’s a pretty good spot. The Bruins have won five straight — a run that includes beating Arizona for the Pac-12 tournament championship — as they continue to shine in coach Steve Alford’s first season.
UCLA had three players in double figures, with guard Jordan Adams getting 19 points, guard Norman Powell adding 16 and guard Kyle Anderson contributing 15.
The Lumberjacks were paced by guard Thomas Walkup’s 22 points and 10 rebounds.
CLA went up by eight points about eight minutes into the game thanks to an eight-point run highlighted by a 3-pointer from Anderson.
But Stephen F. Austin fought back to trail 22-19 on a layup by Walkup. Then the Bruins raced to an 11-point lead with a 8-2 sprint capped by a 3-pointer from guard Bryce Alford and a layup by Adams.
Stephen F. Austin closed to five points with under four minutes left in the half, but another Bruins surge allowed them to take a 10-point cushion into the locker room.
Adams had 12 points and Anderson 11 at halftime.
The Lumberjacks, who shot but 38 percent from the field in the opening half, were paced by Walkup’s 12 points.
NOTES: UCLA faced Stephen F. Austin one time before Sunday night. The Bruins beat the Lumberjacks 109-88 in 1995. … UCLA’s 81.7 points-per-game average is its most since 1997-98 when it averaged 83.1. … UCLA G Jordan Adams, the team’s leading scorer, is playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time after breaking a foot during last year’s Pac-12 Tournament. … With Wichita State losing to Kentucky earlier in the day, Stephen F. Austin had the nation’s longest winning streak at 29 games. … Stephen F. Austin led the nation with 14 road wins, including 12 straight. … With 32 victories, Stephen F. Austin became the first Southland Conference team to reach 30 wins.
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