Bruins bang up Warriors in exhibition

LOS ANGELES — It was the first game held at Pauley Pavilion since John Wooden passed away.  And in typical Wooden style, the Bruins provided the dominance that the Pavilion has seen so many times before.

Westmont College knew they were against long odds, and the hits came early and often as they fell to the Bruins 95-59.  Reeves Nelson led the way for UCLA with a dominant 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Malcolm Lee chipped in with 12 points, seven assists, and five steals.

The Bruins jumped out to a quick 28-14 lead off of the interior scoring of Nelson, who thundered down dunk after dunk against a clearly undersized Westmont front line.

“Everybody’s running and it’s pass, pass, pass,” UCLA sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt said of the Bruins’ revamped running game. “We say we want to be like the Denver Nuggets or the Phoenix Suns, but with more defense.”

Preston Branson provided the offense for the Warriors with 16 points, assuming much of the scoring role as standout senior Dan Rasp sat much of the game with foul trouble.  Branson’s determination was inspiring in the losing effort, showing a silky stroke and heady penetration when the Warrior offense needed it most.  Rasp finished with 14 points and 5 rebounds in only 19 minutes of action.

After their season-opening win against CSU Maritime, the Westmont Warriors were tentative and sloppy on offense, turning the ball over 25 times and shooting a meager 31 percent for the game. Meanwhile, the Bruins were busy scorching Wooden Court to the tune of 64 percent in the first half, and headed into the intermission with a 54-25 advantage.

But the Westmont defense intensified as the game entered its second stanza.  Holding UCLA to 42 percent shooting and 2-13 from long range, the Warriors brought dysfunction to the once-efficient Bruin offense, and kept pace with UCLA for much of the half.

“I think we were just sloppy,” said head coach Ben Howland, when asked if UCLA lost its legs.  “I don’t care if we were up 30, I want them to play the same way.  There was really some sloppiness in the second half.”

Despite the score, there were many positives to be taken from Westmont’s loss.  Branson and the Warrior guards were particularly effective in their drives to the basket, finding their way past the Bruin wings time and again.  Utilizing the Princeton Offense, the Warriors repeatedly found back-door lanes and open jumpers.

But under the blue championship banners, the shots just didn’t fall.

“They are very good,” said Coach John Moore of the Bruins. “They are a great rebounding team. We have to work on a couple of things that were obvious…transition defense and blocking out on the board.”

The Westmont Warriors will try to regroup from both the loss and jetlag on Saturday against St. John’s University in New York City.


  1. Great opportunity getting to take on UCLA, despite the loss!