Gadzuric key factor in Bruin's amazing comeback victory

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With a little over two minutes remaining in last night's game against UCLA, Bruins center Dan Gadzuric did something he hadn't done much of all night.

He missed a shot.

And so, on the next trip down the floor, UCLA coach Steve Lavin removed him from the game.

Removed him not because his shot rimmed out, but because he had all but worn out the rims at Haas Pavilion.

Six offensive rebounds. Four-of-five from the free throw line. And no less than five highlight-worthy slam dunks, the last of which - a one-handed windmill jam that gave the Bruins a 15-point lead with 4:13 remaining - left the backboard shaking for minutes.

"I came out and just dunked it hard and that was it," a modest Gadzuric said of the play. "That was from Earl Watson. He dished it off real well, and I just finished it. You got to give him his props."

While Watson may have been the dunk's catalyst, there was no doubt who brought the Bruins back from a first-half 19-point deficit.

Gadzuric's box score read like a Beethoven concerto: Twenty-two points, 16 rebounds, two assists, four blocks and two steals.

And that's not counting the center's biggest contribution - shutting down the Bears' interior offense.

With Cal junior Sean Lampley providing the only offensive punch for the Bears, Gadzuric helped hold Cal centers Nick Vander Laan, Solomon Hughes and Shahar Gordon to a combined 4-of-15 from the field.

The trio, which tallied eight points in the first half, came up just as empty in the last stanza. The Bruins zone defense limited them to just two more points in the next 20 minutes.

In those 20 minutes, UCLA ran up a 21-point lead, and Gadzuric set career highs in points and field goals made (9), tied a career-best in blocks and fell one rebound shy of his personal-best 17 boards.

"What was most significant (in this game) was Dan Gadzuric stepping up," Bears coach Ben Braun said after the game. "He gave their team some life. He was the biggest difference in the game."

The center was nearly a non-factor in the second half of the contest, after a Vander Laan elbow connected with his nose with about 17 minutes left in game.

The blow left the center dazed and confused for several minutes on the hardwood, but clearly caused more good than harm for the Bruins.

"I don't know if I was knocked out," the sophomore said of the elbow, which resulted in a split lip and sore nose. "But I like physicality, and that was a good elbow. He knocked some sense into me."

Gadzuric may have also knocked some sense into Lavin, who held his center out of the starting lineup because knee troubles had caused Gadzuric to miss practice Monday.

Lavin started Jerome Moiso in Gadzuric's place. Moiso ended the night with nine points and six rebounds.

"For some reason, our big guys play better off the bench," Lavin said. "We're going to have to start bringing (Moiso and Gadzuric) off the bench."

While Lavin may have only been joking, the center agreed that coming off the pine made him better prepared to handle the Bears' defense.

"I observed from the bench and I saw what their defense was," Gadzuric said. "Once coach put me in the game, I was ready to go."


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