BOULDER, COLO. —
It was a natural high at 5,346 feet above sea level.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. hurled the ball off the bottom of the scoreboard. Tyger Campbell and Dylan Andrews exchanged a flying body bump and then a hug.
For the first time in a decade, UCLA is the outright Pac-12 champion.
The fourth-ranked Bruins got there after making the key plays down the stretch to pull out a 60-56 victory over Colorado on Sunday afternoon at the CU Events Center.
Adem Bona blocked a driving layup by Colorado’s K.J. Simpson, leading to a breakaway dunk by Amari Bailey that gave UCLA a 58-54 lead with 16 seconds left. Colorado got two free throws with nine seconds left after Jaylen Clark fouled out fighting for a rebound, but Jaquez hurled a long inbound pass to Bailey for a breakaway that was thwarted with a foul.
Bailey made both free throws with seven seconds left to extend the advantage to four points and Campbell stole Colorado’s final pass, sparking the celebration for the Bruins (25-4 overall, 16-2 Pac-12) as they savored their first Pac-12 regular-season championship since the 2012-13 season.
UCLA has two more games before the Pac-12 tournament. They will come in a far more relaxed setting after the Bruins overcame a 10-point deficit in the first half.
An energetic burst to start the second half, sparked by renewed defensive vigor, gave UCLA a 38-32 lead before the game largely devolved into a battle of free throws with both teams enduring cold shooting stretches.
Colorado eventually took a 45-44 lead on Tristan da Silva’s three-pointer with 8:13 left, capitalizing on the Bruins missing seven consecutive field goals over seven minutes. Da Silva later left the game with an ankle injury.
It felt like a minor miracle that UCLA trailed only 30-28 at halftime given all the ways the Bruins had struggled. They had taken bad shots. Thrown bad passes. Played out of control.
The crowd was roaring when Colorado guard Quincy Allen’s three-pointer pushed the Buffaloes into a 21-11 lead. That was around the time the Bruins finally decided to play some defense, holding Colorado to mostly free throws over the rest of the first half as UCLA slowly chipped away at its deficit. The Bruins were back within a basket after Clark took a lob from Campbell for a layup.