FULLERTON, Calif. — A slow start had Nebraska playing catch-up throughout the night as Huskers dropped an 82-71 decision to No. 14 UCLA in the Wooden Legacy Classic semifinals late Friday night.
After trailing by as many as 15 points early in the second half, Nebraska did pull within two with 9:20 to play, but the Huskers (4-1) could never catch the Bruins, who improved to 6-0.
Nebraska had started quick in its first game at Wooden Classic on Thursday, hitting its first seven shots en route to an 80-78 win over Dayton. The Huskers shot 56.9 percent from the field against the Flyers.
However, on Friday, Nebraska missed 24 of its first 31 shots as it trailed 31-19 late in the first half. UCLA led 38-25 at halftime and a dunk in the opening seconds of the second half put the Bruins up by 15.
But behind guard Glynn Watson, who scored 21 of his career-high 27 points after halftime, the Huskers rallied.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Tai Webster and Watson pulled the Huskers within 58-56 with 9:26 left. But on UCLA’s next possession, Isaac Hamilton hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-1 run and Nebraska never got closer than five the rest of the way.
Nebraska still was within 72-66 with two minutes left, but UCLA scored 10 of the next 12 points to close out the win.
Bryce Alford led five Bruins in double figures with 18 points. He scored 14 after halftime, including a 3-pointer and four free throws in the final 1:04.
Hamilton added 15 points, while Thomas Welsh had his fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds for UCLA, which will play Texas A&M in Sunday’s championship game.
Besides Watson, Webster finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Ed Morrow was next for Nebraska with eight points and seven rebounds.
Nebraska shot 39 percent (29 of 75) for the game, while UCLA hit 52 percent (32 of 62).
Nebraska will finish play at the Wooden Legacy Classic with the third-place game on Sunday at 3 p.m. against Virginia Tech.