Scrappy, laborious, ugly games can turn on such things.
UCLA senior guard Larry Drew II did a dipsy-doodle move, scooping in a layup. Drew extended his body to swipe a pass, then gave Shabazz Muhammad a silver-platter tomahawk dunk. And finally, Drew decided to be the scorer, not the facilitator.
Scrappy, laborious, ugly games are won on such things.
Drew declined to pass, no matter how badly Muhammad wanted the ball. He dribbled across the top of the key and sank a 17-foot buzzer-beater to give UCLA a 59-57 victory over Washington on Thursday.
The Bruins were scrappy, laborious and ugly — and remained alive and kicking in the Pac-12 race.
"It shows if you have some heart, good things will happen at the end of the day," Drew said.
The Bruins (17-6 overall, 7-3 in conference play) needed something good at the end of this one. They had lost three of the last four games, including an overtime loss to USC last week. It was hurting them in the standings and the box office.
UCLA announced 8,075 tickets sold Thursday, but it was clear that a chunk of fans were not able to re-sell tickets, judging by a half-empty Pauley Pavilion.
The biggest cheer of the night — before Drew's shot — was when the video screen showed Bruins football Coach Jim Mora. But, then, Mora has had a better week, landing a top-10 recruiting class.
The Bruins needed something positive. They got something, with the first words out of Coach Ben Howland's mouth after the game being, "Well, that was a huge win. "
Indeed. It kept the Bruins a game out of first place, though it won't be a video to send the NCAA selection committee.
"We have plenty of good wins on our resume," Muhammad said. "But we definitely need another win that is solid."
He added, "We got an ugly win. We'll take it."
It came in a strange game. How strange? Howland had one timeout left at the end.
Asked when the last time he left an arena with a timeout in his pocket, Howland laughed, but didn't answer. He did say, "I think it was a full one too."
Howland decided to leave the game in Drew's hands after the Huskies (13-10, 5-5) tied the score on a C.J. Wilcox layup with 10 seconds left.
"Sometimes I like to let them go," Howland said.
Was Drew surprised?
"In that situation I don't have much time to be surprised," Drew said. "I'll be surprised later."
Drew didn't see Muhammad clapping his hands for the ball. "I just saw the rim," he said. The ball never touched it on his jumper.
Drew was mobbed by teammates, which left a red welt on his forehead.
"Yeah, I wanted the ball," Muhammad said, smiling. "But I knew when Larry went up, it was going in. I waited until the guys got off him to congratulate him. I knew he was either going to have something broken or a lot of scratches."
It gave the Bruins a victory that they probably didn't deserve. UCLA shot 33%, the third consecutive game that they have been under 40%
But Muhammad's 22 points, and Washington's 19 turnovers propped the Bruins up. And it was a little senior-itis by Drew — the good kind — that got UCLA over the top.
Drew scooped in a shot and was fouled, with his free throw giving the Bruins a 52-48 lead. With the Bruins up 54-53, he missed a shot. The Huskies tried to push up court, but Drew stretched to intercept a pass and found Muhammad all alone for a dunk.
Drew saved the best for last. "This is a confidence builder," he said. "It goes to show that some games you have to stick with it even when it's ugly."
And laborious and scrappy.