Vermont 67

(0-3, 0-3 away)


(1-0, 1-0 home)

    8:00 PM ET, November 29, 2003

    Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California

    1 2 T
    UVM 34 3367
    UCLA 23 4568

    Howland debuts to 36 family, friends

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The game started out so much like last season, even new UCLA coach Ben Howland wondered if his players weren't having negative flashbacks.

    The Bruins fell behind by 11 points, tossed up airballs, and their defense allowed Taylor Coppenrath to score 20 of Vermont's 34 points in the first half.

    There was booing as the Bruins left the floor, similar to the fan reaction last season when UCLA finished 10-19. A year ago, the Bruins lost their opener to San Diego in overtime, signaling the start of what was to become their worst season in 52 years.

    "Maybe in the back of their minds they were thinking, `Oh no, here we go again," Howland said, "but they fought back. We overcame adversity and that's what you have to be able to do."

    Michael Fey had career highs with 20 points and eight rebounds and UCLA rallied to beat Vermont 68-67 Saturday, making Howland a winner in his debut.

    Howland had 36 friends and family members at the game. He grew up watching the Bruins from his hometown of Santa Barbara.

    "It was big from that standpoint," he said. "It's nice to get that first win."

    Howland came from Pittsburgh to replace Steve Lavin, who was fired in March after seven seasons and four appearances in the Final 16 of the NCAA tournament.

    "You can't really compare this year's team to last year," said Dijon Thompson, who added 18 points. "This year's team is very unselfish."

    The game came down to Ryan Hollins making one of two free throws with 4.8 seconds left for UCLA. Vermont guard T.J. Sorrentine dribbled down court, but couldn't get a shot off before time ran out.

    The Bruins spent the first 10 minutes of the second half erasing their 11-point deficit with an 11-0 run. Janou Rubin had five points and Fey four in the spurt that gave the Bruins their first lead of the half, 43-41.

    "I was being more active, the team was finding me in the post," Fey said. "We wanted to take our time."

    But Vermont (0-3) never went away. After being double-teamed early in the half, Coppenrath broke loose and repeatedly hit big baskets that kept it a four-point game or less over the final 11 minutes.

    "Coppenrath we had no answer for," Howland said. "He's going to make money playing basketball someday."

    Tied at 64, North Carolina transfer Brian Morrison hit a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left for UCLA. Moments earlier, Morrison took a charge from Coppenrath that forced the Catamounts into a turnover.

    "They both felt really good," Morrison said. "They were both plays to win the game."

    Coppenrath answered Morrison's basket with his own 3-pointer to tie it at 67.

    UCLA's Cedric Bozeman dribbled down the clock until he dished to Hollins, who missed but got fouled. Hollins made the first free throw, but had the crowd groaning when he missed the second.

    Coppenrath, last year's player of the year in the America East Conference, finished with 38 points, tying his career high.

    Vermont coach Tom Brennan declined to speak to reporters after the game.

    UCLA freshman Trevor Ariza was set to start at forward, but he'll miss at least two weeks because of a collapsed lung. Josiah Johnson started in his place and grabbed six rebounds.

    The Bruins also played without senior T.J. Cummings, who is academically ineligible and could return in December.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2003-04 Season

    » Nov 29, 2003 @UCLA 68, UVM 67Recap