Well Howland added to his list of infamy last night losing to a WSU team at Pullman. It was something that not even Steve Lavin had done and had not happen since Tyus Edny was a player. And unlike the two earlier disaster losses to Cal Poly and USC at home, the Bruins were never in this game:
The night couldn't have started worse for No. 23 UCLA, which is lucky to be down just 35-24 to Washington State at halftime.
The Bruins opened the game 1 of 10 from the field while playing some porous defense against the conference's worst team. WSU used a matchup zone to keep UCLA from getting its second field goal until almost 10 minutes had elapsed. Even without its No. 2 and No. 3 scorers - Mike Ladd (thumb) and DaVonte Lacy (knee) - the Cougars ran out a 25-4 lead with eight minutes to go.
Well, it happened. UCLA lost 73-61 to Washington State, the Bruins' first loss in Pullman since February 1993. Six of the 15 players who received minutes in the game weren't even born then. The Cougars broke a nine-game losing streak despite not having its No. 2 and 3 starters - guards Mike Ladd (thumb) and DaVonte Lacy (knee) - who combine for over 20 points and nearly nine rebounds.
The Bruins were crushed on the boards 46-23, their worst deficit of the season after a 20-board margin at Arizona State. But UCLA has been a poor rebounding team all season, something it made up for by taking good care of the ball. That didn't happen at Beasley Colisuem, where the Bruins - the conference leader in assist-to-turnover ratio - coughed to ball up 12 times against their 10 assists. WSU, which had 17 turnovers of its own, successfully bogged the game down and scored 44 points in the paint.
So let me get this straight we got blown out by the conference's worst team without their second and third best players. Actually this should not be surprise.
In the bigger picture, the Bruins once again showed the inability to follow up a big win against a team it should handle easily. UCLA, which defeated Arizona on Saturday under the ESPN "College GameDay" spotlight, has a knack for rising up to big occasions but routinely falls flat outside of the limelight. The Bruins, who climbed into the national rankings this week, lost three of four games after the last time they were ranked.
Howland to his partial credit takes the blame for the unbelievable bad game.
"I'm sitting there trying to figure it all out after the game, thinking about it," Howland said. "I don't know. I'm at a loss.
"But I didn't do a good enough job preparing these kids for how hard this was going to be."
. . .
"We're just not dominant enough to just show up," Howland added. "You've got to show up ready to roll. That's my responsibility, and obviously, I failed tonight."
But the thing is Howland spent the week using his media contact to save his job. From Gary "I hate UCLA" Parrish of CBS to Katz and Bilas of ESPN Howland spent the week using them to make the case for saving his job. Even in the game Howland had the answer on how to come back against WSU and did not use it.
Ben Howland tried out a zone defense, which helped spark an 8-0 run over three minutes. Jordan Adams' wide-open 3-pointer at the end of the period closed the deficit to just 11 points.
But Howland rarely used the zone after that. Also UCLA looked baffled on offense most of the game.
The Bruins also seemed baffled by the Cougars' zone and resorted to flinging three-point attempts. Of their 57 shots, 29 were three-pointers. UCLA shot 38% from the field.
This loss is 100% on the coach. UCLA has enough talent that they should beat this horrid WSU team without a coach this late in the season. The only "good news" is this should be the last nail in Howland's coffin. Bye-Bye Ben, enjoy your last games as UCLA coach because you are not coming back next year.