SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Nine days after knocking off the No. 1 team in the country, the UCLA Bruins knocked off their No. 1 nemesis from a season ago.
Isaac Hamilton scored 20 points, Tony Parker added 16 and UCLA beat No. 20 Gonzaga 71-66 on Saturday night.
The Bruins lost to Gonzaga at home last season and then again in the round of 16. UCLA now could replace the Zags in the rankings, boosted by its win on Dec. 3 over then-No. 1 Kentucky.
UCLA (7-3) was eager to avenge those defeats.
”We could’ve played them in the park,” Parker said. ”We just wanted to play them.”
Doing so in front of a raucous, sellout crowd of 6,000 in UCLA’s first true road game of the season made winning that much sweeter.
”What an environment,” Bruins coach Steve Alford said. ”This is a great environment.”
Down 48-47 midway through the second half, the Bruins (7-3) scored nine straight points to take the lead for good.
Bruce Alford scored 13 points for UCLA. Jonah Bolden added 10, including two free throws with 4.7 seconds left to play. Bolden also had 11 rebounds.
Kyle Wiltjer led Gonzaga (6-3) with 20 points and Domantas Sabonis scored 18. Both players had eight rebounds.
Wiltjer is ”as good a player as we’re going to play all year long,” Steve Alford said. ”He got 20. Sabonis got 18, but I thought they were hard-earned.”
Eric McClellan scored 14 points for Gonzaga and Josh Perkins had 10.
McClellan drove for a layin to pull the Bulldogs within 65-64 with 1:29 left, but Thomas Welsh followed with a put-back basket at the other end.
”I think we grew tonight, though we lost,” McClellan said. ”That’s a talented UCLA team that came in here.”
”You can see why they beat Kentucky. They’re aggressive at all five positions,” he said.
Gonzaga led 32-30 at halftime after outscoring the Bruins 8-2 over the final four minutes.
Both teams came out shooting well. UCLA led 17-14 after barely five minutes when the teams combined to hit 12 of 16 shots, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range.
Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski, a key starter, missed his fourth straight game with a back injury.
UCLA: The Bruins are 31-28 against Top 25 teams since 2006-07. UCLA is 2-1 against Top 25 teams this season – the other win was against Kentucky – after going 2-7 last season and 2-3 in 2013-14.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs own a 154-11 record at the McCarthey Athletic Center since the arena opened at the start of the 2004-05 season. Gonzaga has never lost two consecutive games at ”the Mac.”
UCLA hosts Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday.
Gonzaga hosts Saint Martin’s on Monday.