Jaime Jaquez Jr. registered 24 points and eight rebounds to help UCLA post a 68-63 victory over Northwestern on Saturday night in NCAA Tournament West Region play at Sacramento, Calif.
Amari Bailey added 14 points and six assists as the second-seeded Bruins (31-5) advance to a third straight Sweet 16 for the first time since the program reached three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08.
“It’s just straight toughness,” Jaquez said. “We work so hard and I think we really focus a lot on the scouting and just taking pride in the scouting report and what we need to do to win the game.”
Tyger Campbell had seven assists and was 12 of 12 from the free-throw line for all of his points as UCLA won for the 14th time in the past 15 games.
The Bruins will face either third-seeded Gonzaga or sixth-seeded TCU on Thursday in Las Vegas.
Boo Buie scored 18 points for seventh-seeded Northwestern (22-12), which is 2-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Matt Nicholson scored a career-best 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds while Chase Audige scored all 16 of his points in the second half for the Wildcats.
Northwestern connected on 37.3 percent of its shots and was 6 of 22 from behind the arc.
The Bruins shot 50 percent from the field and were 6 of 15 from 3-point range.
The margin was three before UCLA’s David Singleton swished a 3-pointer with 1:52 remaining to give the Bruins a 62-56 edge.
Brooks Barnhizer made two free throws with 1:26 left to bring Northwestern within four before Campbell made two free throws with 32.6 seconds remaining. Buie’s basket with 23.3 seconds left again cut the Wildcats’ deficit to four.
Singleton was fouled with 20.3 seconds left but injured his lower right leg on the play and was helped to the locker room. Dylan Andrews shot the free throws instead and made both for a six-point margin.
“Hopefully he’s OK,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “It scared him, I know that. He was able to get up so we’ll see how that goes.”
Campbell made two free throws with 11.7 seconds left to cap it.
UCLA held a 10-point halftime lead and pushed the margin to 41-28 on Bailey’s layup with 17:59 remaining before the Wildcats went on a 17-4 surge.
Audige added two layups and Buie made one as Northwestern scored six of the final eight of the run to tie it at 45 with 11:26 remaining.
UCLA scored the next six points with Andrews draining a 3-pointer with 9:01 left.
Adem Bona’s layup gave UCLA a 57-51 lead with 4:57 left.
Buie drained a 3-pointer 23 seconds later to cut the deficit to three. Campbell made two free throws with 2:50 left but Nicholson made two free throws 11 seconds later.
Jaquez scored 14 points and Bailey added 11 as UCLA led 35-25 at the break. Nicholson scored 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting for Northwestern while the rest of his teammates were a combined 5 of 23.
–Field Level Media