After one missed opportunity followed by another, UCLA could finally exhale.
The Bruins edged Pepperdine 107-98 in triple overtime Friday at Viejas Arena for their first victory of the season.
It took a barrage of three-pointers in the third overtime for UCLA to prevail. Tyger Campbell and Jules Bernard each made one before Chris Smith added an old-fashioned three-point play after getting fouled on a putback and making the free throw to give the Bruins a 98-93 lead.
Most of what preceded that sequence involved failure.
UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. made only one of four free throws in the final seconds of the second overtime, extending the game for five more minutes.
The Bruins (1-1) also appeared headed for victory in the final minutes of regulation and in the first overtime before faltering. Jaquez headed to the free-throw line in the first overtime with his team ahead by one point with 25 seconds left but could make only one of two attempts.
Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross, who led all scorers with 33 points, tied the score on a floater with six seconds left before UCLA’s Bernard badly missed a jumper at the buzzer.
Two days after going scoreless in the second half of a loss to San Diego State, Smith scored 17 of his 26 points after halftime against the Waves.
The Bruins had two chances to win in the final seconds of regulation but one sloppy possession ended in an airballjumper by Jaquez and another gave the ball back to Pepperdine along its baseline after Smith’s full-court baseball pass sailed out of bounds.
Pepperdine couldn’t convert on its final opportunity either, Bernard contesting a shot by Kessler Edwards.
UCLA looked like it was going to close out the Waves when Jaquez sunk a corner three-pointer to give the Bruins a 68-62 lead and blocked a shot on the other end to trigger a fastbreak. But Smith was called for charging, prompting UCLA coach Mick Cronin to places his hands incredulously on his head. Pepperdine (1-1) embarked on an 8-2 run to tie the score 70-70 on Jade Smith’s three-pointer with 59 seconds left.
The Bruins played a second consecutive game without redshirt junior forward Jalen Hill (right knee tendinitis) and sophomore guard Johnny Juzang (stress reaction in right foot).
UCLA chose to go with a small lineup for nearly the final 12 minutes of the first half after redshirt junior forward Cody Riley picked up his second foul and headed to the bench. That left Smith, at 6 feet 9, as the tallest Bruin on the court until he picked up his second foul with about a minute left before halftime and was replaced by the 6-6 Jake Kyman.
Riley fouled out with 1:54 left in the second overtime, finishing with 13 points and three rebounds.
Lots went wrong for the Bruins early. They failed to sustain any offensive rhythm or cause much disruption defensively, generating no steals or blocks. They made dumb plays at the three-point line, twice fouling Pepperdine players taking long-range jumpers and leading to six made free throws.
Smith scored nine points in the first half but hardly looked like the best player on the court, a discouraging development for someone who returned for one more college season to solidify his NBA draft standing. He committed one charge and could have been called for another. He also came out on the short end of a conversation with Cronin during a timeout, Cronin’s loud “No!” audible in the upper reaches of the arena.
Up next for UCLA
Monday vs. Long Beach State, 6:30 p.m., Pauley Pavilion, Pac-12 Network — This will be the opener for the Beach, which will be without three potential returning players. New Zealand native Max De Geest remains abroad because he returned home after the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and seniors Colin Slater and Drew Cobb opted out of the season over safety concerns.