Adem Bona sprawled on the court, using every inch of his massive frame to chase down the loose ball. His immediate grimace and grabbing of his left shoulder area sent an entire fan base wincing.
UCLA was unable to absorb another serious injury.
The Bruins, who had already lost their best defender, lost another starter midway through the second half when Bona lay on the ground for a long time before getting up and walking slowly to the locker room Friday night at the T- Mobile Arena.
Bona’s absence along with Jaylen Clark, who was sidelined with a lower leg injury, left UCLA with a lineup no one expected in the second half of their Pac-12 tournament semifinal against Oregon.
Starting point guard Tyger Campbell found himself on the court with reserves Abramo Canka, Dylan Andrews, Will McClendon and Kennth Nwuba. With his team in trouble, Campbell took charge with a series of moves, causing the decibel level within the arena to rise with each one. There was a long shot where he banked. A cross dribble followed by a jump shot. A triple. Another jumper that forced the Ducks to call a timeout as Oregon coach Dana Altman screwed up his face in disgust.
For the first time all season, Campbell was in the full “Steph mode” that coach Mick Cronin had prescribed for him before the first game. The flurry of points lifted the second-ranked, top-seeded Bruins to a 75-56 victory over the fourth-seeded Ducks.
Bona returned to the bench to cheer on his team to their 12th straight win, celebrating two massive blocks from Nwuba. Bona’s future status was not immediately known, a team spokesman said.
Campbell finished with 20 of his 28 points in the second half and Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 18 points for the Bruins (29-4), who will play the winner of the late game between second-seeded Arizona and sixth-seeded Arizona State in the championship on Saturday night.
Will Richardson scored 10 points for the Ducks (19-14), who may have missed their last chance to clinch an NCAA Tournament berth.
UCLA was literally cursing itself at halftime, Mac Etienne uttering profanities on his way off the court after missing a gimme at the rim in the last second of the first half from a great pass from Campbell.
The Bruins’ 32-30 lead at that point came courtesy of tight defense and a good blast off the bench from Andrews. The freshman guard followed up a floater with a jump before lobbing a perfect lob to Bona for a monster dunk. Bona had to leave late in the first half after committing two fouls in an 11-second span, but teammate Amari Bailey generated the biggest roars early on when he launched a one-handed dunk to put UCLA up 30- 26. .
There was more celebration and worry to come.