UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland
On the collapse at the end of the game:
I thought for 34 minutes we really played tough, really played smart. We made some really bad mistakes (in the last few minutes). Number one is costly fouls. We’re up ten, Josh (Smith) misses a shot and they get the rebound, I think there’s 5:43 to go, No. 23 (C.J. Wilcox) goes to the line and shoots a 1-and-1. Then a miss, then we foul again to stop the clock. So right away we give up four points. Not smart plays. Give Ross credit. Ross did a great job; I thought Ross really took over down the stretch. He had 18 points in the second half and we did not have an answer for Ross.
What can you take away from this game?
I was really proud of the way our team played in a difficult environment. It was just disappointing to lose this after preparing so hard in practice. I thought Josh played terrific today. But our defense – they shot 52% — and our inability to attack to zone in the last five minutes. We got a little discombobulated; we had a couple of turnovers. We didn’t execute some things down the stretch offensively, which starts with me.
How disappointing is it that Josh Smith’s best performance came in a loss?
It’s really too bad. He played very well in front of his family and friends and did a great job. He was really a force inside for us all night. I thought he was really up for the game because he was coming back home, playing in front of his mom and dad and his brothers. I’m really proud of him; I’m just disappointed that his best performance of the year came in a loss.
Is this loss tougher to take than some earlier in the year?
Yes, because it’s later in the year. We’re a much improved team from when we played Stanford nine games ago.
On the last play of the game:
We were trying to get something inside, something to the opposite side and nothing presented itself. It actually wasn’t that bad of a shot, he (Norman Powell) kind of fell away a little bit, but it wasn’t a terrible shot.
Why is so difficult to play here?
They have very good teams and they’ve been very good every year. It’s a great, loud environment because it’s built right on top of you. Obviously it was a great advantage for them.