LOS ANGELES — A UCLA men's basketball program battling to restore prominence held off a UC Irvine outfit searching for relevance.
The No. 13-ranked Bruins, coming off a season in which they did not reach the NCAA Tournament, defeated UCI, a school that has never been to the Big Dance, 80-79, in an overtime classic at New Pauley Pavilion Tuesday night.
UCI took a 79-78 lead on a Mike Wilder three-pointer with 23 seconds left, but Larry Drew answered with a layin with 17 seconds left for the Bruins (2-0), who defended a Wilder drive in the closing seconds.
UCI (1-1) which posted an impressive win over Nevada in its season opener, was looking for its first win over a ranked opponent since toppling Stanford, ranked No. 13 at the time, in November of 2005.
Instead, the Anteaters have now lost seven straight against their UC neighbors to the north. UCLA leads the series, 8-2.
UCI took a 71-69 lead in overtime, before a three-point play by David Wear put the Bruins back on top, 72-71.
After a UCI turnover when Daman Starring charged, freshman Jordan Adams made two free throws to give UCLA a 74-71 edge.
Adams finished with a game-high 26 points, including 16 for 16 from the foul line.
Mike Best made two foul shots and Starring knocked down a jumper to help set the stage for Wilder's near-game-winning three-pointer.
Wilder, whose desperation layin attempt with two seconds left did not hit the rim and was rebounded by Drew, had a team-best 23 points for UCI.
Sophomore Will Davis had a chance to give UCI the lead with two seconds left in regulation, but missed two foul shots, allowing UCLA to take the game into overtime.
Freshman Alex Young nailed a three-pointer from the right corner with 54 seconds left to put UCI up, 67-65.
After a UCLA miss, UCI regained possession with 42 seconds left and got a timeout with 14 ticks remaining after Derick Flowers lost the ball on the dribble and fell on it near the foul line.
With seven seconds on the shot clock, UCI inbounded, but had the ball stolen by Kyle Anderson. Anderson passed ahead to Adams, who was fouled hard attempting a layup with seven seconds left.
Adams, nailed both foul shots to tie the game and UCI had a chance at victory
Davis had 12 points, Flowers 10 and Starring nine.
A Wilder three-pointer with 2:59 left gave UCI a 64-63 advantage.
UCI took a 10-9 lead, before David and Travis Wear, sophomore twins from Huntington Beach, combined for 10 straight points to give the Bruins a 19-10 advantage.
UCLA was up, 30-22, before UCI, attacking the core of the UCLA defense, closed the half on a 12-6 run to pull within 36-34 at intermission
Wilder made seven of 11 field-goal tries, including six of nine from three-point range.
UCI was 10 of 22 from beyond the arc, but just nine of 51 from two-point range to finish 29 of 73 from the field (39.7%).
UCLA shot 37.8% from the field (28 of 74), but were just two for 12 from three-point range.
UCI's 18 turnovers doubled UCLA's total and the Bruins posted a 55-44 advantage on the boards.
Starring's 10 rebounds, a career high, paced UCI.
"They have a very good team, a team that is going to do really well this year," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said of the Anteaters. "We were fortunate. Lucky."