GONZAGA

Anton Watson scores 32, No. 11 Gonzaga holds off UCLA 69-65

Nov 23, 2023, 12:08 AM

Gonzaga Anton Watson...

Anton Watson of the Gonzaga Bulldogs hauls in a rebound against UCLA on Nov. 22, 2023. (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

(Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

HONOLULU — Anton Watson scored a career-high 32 points on nearly perfect shooting and No. 11 Gonzaga held off UCLA 69-65 Wednesday night in the fifth-place game at the Maui Invitational.

Gonzaga 69, UCLA 65: Box score

The Bulldogs (4-1) led by 13 in the first half before staving off a late charge from the Bruins (4-2) in the finale of a Thanksgiving week tournament that featured five teams ranked among the top 11 in the nation.

Watson shot 14 of 15 from the field, including 3 for 3 from beyond the arc, and grabbed seven rebounds. The 6-foot-8 graduate forward poured in 25 points after halftime. His previous career best was 23 points against Portland on Jan. 9, 2021.

Ryan Nembhard scored 12 points and Nolan Hickam had 11 for the Bulldogs, who shot 43% from the floor.

Sebastian Mack and Lazar Stefanovic had 16 points apiece to lead the Bruins, who shot 35% on field goals.

UCLA cut its deficit to three in the final minute, but Ben Gregg hit a free throw to make it 67-63 with 21 seconds remaining.

It was the fourth time in as many seasons that the teams have squared off. Gonzaga defeated UCLA 79-76 in the 2023 Sweet 16 and has won the last four meetings.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga, picked second behind Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference preseason poll, rebounded from a 73-63 loss to No. 2 Purdue on Monday by winning its final two games against Power Five opponents in Hawaii.

UCLA has nonconference matchups against Villanova and Ohio State on the horizon in its leadup to Pac-12 play. Progress will come incrementally with an inexperienced roster that features two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior in the starting lineup. The Bruins, picked third in the Pac-12 preseason poll, gained valuable experience over the course of a nine-day trip through Spain in August.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga will host CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday. The Zags are 4-0 all-time against the Roadrunners.

UCLA faces UC Riverside on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins have won all five previous meetings against the Highlanders.

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Anton Watson scores 32, No. 11 Gonzaga holds off UCLA 69-65