NEW YORK (AP)—Jordan Farmar was smiling. Not what you would expect from a player who had just thrown up an airball free throw with 0.8 seconds left in a tie game.
The sophomore guard went back to the line, made the second and No. 16 UCLA had a 57-56 victory over Drexel on Friday in the third place game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
“I had seen it happen before but I never thought it would happen to me,” Farmar said. “I had to laugh, calm down and knock down the second and get out of here with a win.”
The Bruins lost to No. 11 Memphis in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden and they didn’t look like a nationally ranked team for most of the third-place game.
“Credit Drexel, we were fortunate to get the win but we are happy to be fortunate,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “It’s the 25th of November. We have a lot of things to get better at to be effective.”
UCLA (4-1) had tied the game at 56 with 6.8 seconds left on two of three free throws by Arron Afflalo. Drexel (3-2) then turned the ball over when Bashir Mason couldn’t handle a hard inbounds pass from Chaz Crawford.
Farmar, who had a career-high 28 points against Memphis, was fouled by Mason and the buzzer sounded but officials reviewed the tape and put 0.8 seconds back on the clock.
Drexel’s long inbounds pass after Farmar’s free throw was grabbed by UCLA’s Lorenzo Mata to end the game.
Dragons coach Bruiser Flint was asked if this was his toughest loss.
“No question about that,” he said. “It was one of those situations where they’re used to being on this type of stage and making those plays and we’re not.”
Drexel was coming off a 78-68 semifinal loss to No. 1 Duke, a game that saw the Dragons within six points with one minute remaining.
“This is a young team and we talked about coming here and making a mark and I think we did that,” Flint said.
Afflalo had 18 points for the Bruins, while Cedric Bozeman added 10. Farmar was 1-for-10 from the field and finished with six points and eight assists.
“I struggled but the rest of the guys stepped up,” Farmar said.
Afflalo tried to explain why the Bruins didn’t take over the game the way most people expected them to.
“Third-place games are always tough, especially when you keep looking back at the night before and you thought you should have won,” he said.
Kenell Sanchez had 14 points for the Dragons, who have a game Saturday at 4 p.m. against Penn, while Frank Elegar and Mason each had 13.
“That game is going to be tough win or lose this one,” Flint said of meeting another Philadelphia school. “We’re playing against the guys next door to us. We have to refocus and get ourselves prepared.”
Sanchez’s basket underneath with 3:49 to go gave Drexel a 56-51 lead and it was the Dragons’ last points of the game.
Afflalo hit the last of his four 3-pointers with 2:27 left to make it 56-54 and neither scored until Afflalo’s free throws with 6.8 seconds to go.
UCLA outrebounded Drexel 29-28 but the Dragons had 13 offensive rebounds with Crawford grabbing four to account for all of his eight points.
“They exploited us inside,” Howland said. “Their big guys were a problem.”