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UCLA Vs. Montana: Bruins Return Home To Pauley Pavilion For Non-Conference Affair

(Sports Network) - After losing out on a questionable call in the final moments on Thursday night, the UCLA Bruins head back to the hardwood tonight to tangle with the Montana Grizzlies in non-conference action at Pauley Pavilion.

Since winning three straight games to kick off the 2010-11 campaign, UCLA has now dropped three in a row, although the most recent defeat was certainly a questionable one for most. On Thursday night, after bowing to seventh-ranked Villanova as well as VCU on a neutral floor a week earlier, the Bruins appeared to be on the verge of taking fourth-ranked Kansas to overtime on the road as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, but a foul call with fractions of a second remaining on the clock allowed the Jayhawks to slip away with the 77-76 win in Allen Fieldhouse, marking the 64th straight home win for Kansas.

As for the Grizzlies, they were in action two nights ago and they too lost a close matchup against the University of Portland, 58-54, at home. The defeat snapped a three-game win streak by Montana and evened the squad's overall record at 3-3 which is also where the Bruins stand heading into play tonight.

With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Bruins have taken all four of the previous meetings between the schools.

At home in Missoula, the Grizzlies allowed Portland to knock down not only 55.0 percent from the field overall, but also 62.5 percent behind the three- point line, making it that much more difficult to keep up with the Pilots. Will Cherry accounted for 15 points and seven assists, both team highs, while Brian Qvale tacked on 11 points and cleared eight rebounds in the losing cause. Off the bench, Billy Reader tossed in 10 points in just 11 minutes for a squad that shot a miserable 8-of-20 at the free-throw line. Cherry, the leading scorer in each of the last three games and four times overall this season, is responsible for 16.8 ppg and is also first on the unit with both 19 assists and 22 steals, giving it his all at both ends of the floor. Qvale checks in with 14.8 ppg and a team-best 7.7 rpg and 17 blocked shots, which more or less make up for the fact that he has but five assists over six games.

Fighting back from a seven-point deficit in the final minutes, the Bruins probably thought they were on their way to overtime when Tyler Honeycutt knocked down a game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds, but that was before a foul on Malcolm Lee with 0.7 seconds to play. Honeycutt finished with a game-high 33 points, shooting not only 11-of-15 from the field but also 5- of-6 behind the three-point line, adding nine rebounds, four assists and a couple of steals. Joshua Smith recorded a double-double off the bench with 17 points and a game-high 13 boards, while Lazeric Jones tacked on 11 points. Playing almost 35 minutes per game, Honeycutt is first in scoring for the group with his 17.7 ppg, and for the most part the production is spread well over several players. Reeves Nelson (15.5 ppg) heads the rebounding list with 9.5 rpg while Jones (12.3 ppg) accounts for a team-high 20 assists. The free- throw line continues to be an issue for a couple of the players, with the team hitting a combined 65.6 percent right now.

After such an emotional game at Kansas one would think the Bruins would be due for a let-down. However, being back home in Los Angeles should help the squad shake off the disappointment.

For more UCLA hoops news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Bruins Nation.