UCLA’s home win streak ends with loss to Cal State Northridge

The streak is over. The stink is spreading.

Bullied on its home court by Cal State Northridge on Tuesday night, UCLA was softer and sloppier than a fearless opponent from the Big West Conference.

The Bruins’ seasonlong offensive struggles, combined with unusually sagging defense, cost them against what was supposed to be a far lesser foe, the Matadors emerging with a 76-72 victory inside Pauley Pavilion that ended UCLA’s home winning streak that was the longest in the nation at 29 games.

It was UCLA’s first home loss since a setback against Oregon in January 2022 and arguably its worst since a defeat to Cal State Fullerton in December 2019. For Northridge, it was a rare moment of glory in a series dominated by the Bruins, who had won nine of 10 previous meetings, their only other stumble coming in November 2000.

UCLA’s last-gasp comeback hopes ended after Dylan Andrews buried a three-pointer to pull the Bruins within 71-67 with 1:45 left. Northridge’s Dionte Bostick buried a turnaround jumper and UCLA’s Adem Bona missed two free throws on a night his team made only 23 of 35.

Through the season’s first six weeks, UCLA could be characterized as a young team enduring early struggles against quality opponents.

That narrative no longer holds up.

What happened Tuesday necessitated the revisiting of every portrayal of these Bruins.

Trailing by 19 points early in the second half, the Bruins (5-5) eventually pulled within one before the Matadors (8-3) delivered a massive counterpunch. Northridge guard Gianni Hunt’s three-pointer while falling down gave his team a 68-59 advantage with 5:18 left, and the Matadors made enough free throws the rest of the way to hold on.

UCLA guard Sebastian Mack finished with a career-high 27 points and Andrews added 22 for the Bruins, who finished with a season-worst 19 turnovers and shot 37%. Bostick led Northridge with 18 points.

The Bruins appeared on the verge of being run off their home court when Northridge surged to a 45-26 lead early in the second half. But some defensive stops and a steady diet of Mack drives led to layups and free throws that got the Bruins back into the game.

The decibel level inside the building rose to a crescendo as the Bruins rolled off a 21-6 run to pull within 57-56 on Mack’s three-pointer. But UCLA started getting careless, back-to-back possessions ending with Mack and Andrews losing the ball for turnovers to spark another Northridge push.

As if to underscore the urgency of the situation late in the first half, a fan in the upper reaches of Pauley Pavilion late in the first half yelled, “Come on! It’s Cal State Northridge!”

Indeed it was. The Matadors were clearly the better team.

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