UCLA edge past UNC Asheville 86-53 in March Madness

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 17 points and UCLA got off to a fast start and never looked back in an 86-53 win over UNC Asheville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.

The second-seeded Bruins (30-5) scored the game’s first 14 points and rolled from there. Amari Bailey also scored 17 points and David Singleton 11.

UCLA qualified to face seventh seed Northwestern in the second round of the West Region. The Wildcats beat Boise State 75-67 earlier in the day.

Drew Pember scored 13 points for the 15th-seeded Bulldogs (27-8). UNC Asheville, which won the regular season and Big South tournament titles, has now lost all five times the school has advanced to the knockout stages.

The Bruins apparently noticed what happened earlier in the day at this site when Pac-12 No. 2 seed Arizona was ousted by Princeton 59-55.

UCLA ensured that this game was never in doubt, making its first five shots and take a 14-0 lead on a 3-pointer from Singleton just 3:06 into the game.

Jaquez scored inside to give the Bruins their biggest first-half lead at 34-11 and they coasted from there.


UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs entered the game on a nine-game winning streak and with a school-record 27 wins, but were once again outmatched against a major opponent. Four of their five first-round tournament losses have been by at least 20 points, with their only close game being a 72-65 loss to Syracuse in 2012.

UCLA: The injuries that plagued the Bruins in the Pac-12 tournament didn’t hurt them in this game. Defensive stopper Jaylen Clark (Achilles tendon) is out for the season and freshman big man Adem Bona missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury. Bona could return for the second round.


With a win on Saturday, the Bruins will advance to the Sweet 16 for a third straight season for the first time since 2006-08, when they made it to the Final Four every year.


AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and support: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top -25-college-basketball-survey and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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