STANFORD, Calif. — Lazeric Jones drove into the lane, leaped off his left foot and floated a shot off his fingertips in hopes of capping a career night in spectacular fashion.
Josh Huestis had other ideas.
Huestis blocked the potential go-ahead jumper by Jones with 3 seconds remaining, lifting Stanford to a 60-59 victory over Pac-12 preseason favorite UCLA on Thursday night in the conference opener for both teams.
"That's a memorable one," Huestis said. "Having that power to know that you can stop someone from taking the game-winning shot is a great feeling."
The night belonged to UCLA's flashy point guard until the final play.
Jones scored a career-high 26 points, but his runner in the lane was swatted back by Huestis in the final seconds. Anthony Brown grabbed the rolling ball for Stanford (11-2, 1-0) and sprinted up court to seal a sizzling win that had Maples Pavilion rocking at the buzzer.
"I just took a bad shot. Should have passed it," Jones said. "I was in a rush for no reason. My teammates really fell hard. I take full responsibility for this one."
Aaron Bright had 16 points and Chasson Randle scored 10 for the Cardinal, who blew an 11-point first-half lead before snapping UCLA's five-game winning streak. The Bruins (7-6, 0-1) also had won three in a row and nine of the last 10 against Stanford.
A flurry of 3-pointers in the second half by Stanford kept the Bruins at bay as the Cardinal pulled away with shots from beyond the arc every time UCLA came close. During one stretch, Randle made two 3-pointers and Brown had another to put the Cardinal ahead 56-51 with 5:13 remaining.
Stanford was 2 for 11 from beyond the arc in the first half but made 7 of 13 3-pointers after the break. The Bruins bullied their way into the paint at will to trim Stanford's lead to a point late, and the teams traded baskets in a frantic finish.
After Bright's ill-advised layup attempt missed, UCLA got the ball and pushed it up court. Jerime Anderson missed a 3-pointer, and the Bruins got the ball back with 9 seconds and one final chance.
Jones moved into the middle of the lane and sent up a running shot around the free throw line that Huestis — who switched off a defender following a screen — sent back, setting off a raucous celebration.
"All I can say is it was an unbelievable finish for us," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "I thought the last possession Josh Huestis came up as big as a young man could come up in that situation."
The dramatic victory gives the Cardinal a much-needed boost.
Stanford had won five straight to move on the verge of leaping into the rankings for the first time this season until a struggling Butler team upset Stanford at Maples Pavilion on Dec. 22.
With conference competition in town, Stanford started with some fight.
Josh Owens muscled his way past defenders for a trio of layups in the first five minutes, and Bright's 3-pointer put the Cardinal ahead 18-7 a little more than halfway through the period.
UCLA coach Ben Howland then switched to a pressing zone defense that gave Stanford fits.
The Bruins forced the Cardinal into quick outside shots and capitalized with several easy transition buckets. Jones led several fast breaks during a 17-6 run by UCLA to close the half, slicing Stanford's lead to 24-23 at the break.
"It was a disappointing finish," Howland said. "We fought back hard and put ourselves into a position with the ball to be able to take the open shot, but we just missed it."
The Cardinal played slightly shorthanded after junior guard Gabriel Harris had season-ending surgery to repair a micro-fracture in his right knee. Harris averaged 3.6 points and two rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game off the bench this season.
The Bruins, tabbed to win the conference in the preseason media poll, had won five straight since starting 2-5 — including home losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State. Howland dismissed last year's leading scorer and rebounder, Reeves Nelson, from the team in November for repeated acts of insubordination.
Tyler Lamb and Joshua Smith each scored 10 points for UCLA, which will travel across San Francisco Bay to Berkeley to face California on the weekend. Stanford will host Southern California.
While the Bruins have started to show signs of progress, they're still finding themselves on the wrong side of highlights.
Andrew Zimmermann started the second half in place of Jack Trotter and pumped some life into an otherwise stagnant Stanford crowd. He had a chase-down block off the glass on Jones, leading to a short jumper by Anthony Brown on the other end, then drew a charge to hand Smith his third foul.
The Bruins stayed steady and tied the score at 37-all on Norman Powell's jumper with 11:59 remaining — the first time since UCLA led 4-0 in the opening minutes that it didn't trail. The two teams traded scores the rest of the way to give a relatively low-scoring game an outpouring of offense late.
"It's kind of funny to have that kind of a close game in our first conference home game," Bright said. "Just to go down to the wire like that, I guess it's odd, it's not really funny, I guess."
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company