Adem Bona sprawled on the court, using every inch of his massive wingspan to chase the loose ball. His immediate grimace and clutching of his left shoulder area led to wincing from an entire fan base.
UCLA could not absorb another serious injury.
Already down their best defender, the Bruins lost another starter midway through the second half when Bona stayed down for a lengthy stretch before getting up and walking slowly to the locker room Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The absence of Bona alongside Jaylen Clark, who was out because of a lower-leg injury, left UCLA with a lineup that no one expected in the second half of its Pac-12 tournament semifinal against Oregon.
Starting point guard Tyger Campbell found himself on the court with reserves Abramo Canka, Dylan Andrews, Will McClendon and Kenneth Nwuba. With his team in trouble, Campbell took over with an array of moves, causing the decibel level inside the arena to rise with each one. There was a long jumper that he banked in. A crossover dribble followed by a jumper. A three-pointer. Another jumper that forced the Ducks to call a timeout as Oregon coach Dana Altman scrunched his face in disgust.
For the first time all season, Campbell was in the full “Steph mode” that coach Mick Cronin had prescribed before the first game. The flurry of points carried the second-ranked and top-seeded Bruins to a 75-56 victory over the fourth-seeded Ducks.
Bona returned to the bench to cheer on his team to its 12th consecutive victory, celebrating two massive blocks from Nwuba. Bona’s status going forward was not immediately known, a team spokesman said.
Campbell finished with 20 of his 28 points in the second half and Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 18 points for the Bruins (29-4), who will play the winner of the late game between second-seeded Arizona and sixth-seeded Arizona State in the championship Saturday night.
UCLA was literally cursing itself at halftime, Mac Etienne uttering profanity on his way off the court after missing a gimme at the rim in the final second of the first half off a great pass from Campbell.
The Bruins’ 32-30 lead at that point came courtesy of tight defense and a nice burst off the bench from Andrews. The freshman guard followed a floater with a jumper before throwing a perfect lob to Bona for a monstrous dunk. Bona had to leave late in the first half after picking up two fouls in an 11-second span, but teammate Amari Bailey generated the biggest roars of the early going when he threw down a one-handed breakaway dunk to put UCLA up 30-26.
There was more celebrating — and worrying — to come.
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