UCLA basketball: Bruins can't escape New York with a victory
But the UCLA power forward couldn't connect on a three-pointer that would have pulled the Bruins into a tie with Virginia Commonwealth in the final seconds of the Rams' 89-85 victory in a NIT Season Tip-Off consolation game on Friday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
The Bruins, who trailed by 11 points with 7 minutes, 8 seconds left, put together a frenetic rally and pulled to within a point with 1:47 to go on a Malcolm Lee three-pointer.
Back-to-back turnovers by Tyler Honeycutt and Lazeric Jones led to two easy baskets for the Rams, giving them an 84-79 lead with 1 minute left. UCLA was given one final chance after Jones made a pair of driving layups and Joey Rodriguez made one of two free throws with 13 seconds left to give VCU an 88-85 lead.
That's when Nelson's three-pointer only hit the backboard before bouncing away. UCLA fouled Bradford Burgess, who made one of two free throws with 2.7 seconds to put the game out of reach.
The Bruins (3-2) never led for a second consecutive game and now face the realistic prospect of falling back to .500 with their next game at Kansas on Dec. 2.
-- Ben Bolch in New York
Photo: Reeves Nelson. Credit: Nick Laham / Getty Images.