The UCLA Bruins and the Washington State Cougars apparently like playing each other as every time they play the game goes to overtime. After losing on the road, the Bruins won this time at Pauley with an unlikely hero.
The game started ugly. UCLA misses its first five shots, but Washington State also could not score. At the under 16 timeout, it was Chris Smith, 5, Cougars, 4.
At the under 12, it was Smith, 10, the rest of the Bruins, 4, and Washington State, 14, for a tie game.
The next part of the game featured more back and forth. Jake Kyman, who did not play against Arizona got in the game, but Smith was out. At the next break, it was 22-20. Jules Bernard was a culprit. He forced some shots. He has so much potential and showed it with a nice steal. He followed that up with a forced layup attempt into the Washington State defense.
The UCLA defense was giving up threes and, after one interior breakdown, Cronin called a timeout. It was 34-30, WSU, at the half.
The first half was strange. The game had no flow. Neither team had a run. It was slow with little running, but there were also no turnovers leading to points. UCLA was 1 of 12 of from three while the Cougars were was 5 of 9. The Bruins were able to shut down CJ Elleby, who had zero points in the first half.
In the second half, Jaime Jaquez Jr. tried to single-handedly change the three-point narrative, hitting two right out of halftime. It still seemed like UCLA was shooting too many threes. Meanwhile, WSU, led by Isaac Bonton, was doing some damage and extended their lead to ten.
Don MacLean rightly pointed out that UCLA’s offense was all individual and Washington State’s was more in the flow. Spoiler alert: the Bruin individuals were better.
Then, UCLA went on a 18-4 run. Jaquez keyed the run with a steal, an assist, a three and even a block. He does so much for UCLA. Then, off a steal, Campbell drew a flagrant foul, but he missed both free throws. The Bruins took the lead back the next time off a three from David Singleton.
But UCLA could not hold it. The Bruins kept going one-on-one on offense. The Cougars went back up by four, but, then, Smith and Bernard were successful one-on-one. The game was back and forth with under four minutes left. With Washington State holding a two-point lead and less than a minute left, the UCLA defense held and Smith hit a 12-footer from the baseline to tie the game and send the game into overtime.
For overtime, we will go to the Player of the Game.
1. Player of the game: Cody Riley. Riley took over the game in OT. He played the best five minutes of his career. He scored all his points inside and even had a dramatic block. He finished overtime 5 of 5 and added a point from the free throw line. He finished with 19 points on 9 of 10 shooting.
2. Three-point Defense. UCLA’s three-point defense is still often suspect. Another player not know for his threes, forward Jeff Pollard, torched UCLA. He hit 4 of 5 from three and almost won the game for WSU. While the Cougars cooled off late, the Bruins almost lost on three-pointers alone.
3. Free throw shooting almost cost UCLA the game. Late in overtime, the Bruins were 8 of 16 from the line. Campbell was the worst offender going 2 of 8 from the line. Fortunately, Smith iced the game with some clutch free throws which improved the final stat line.