The WSU Men’s Basketball team lost a very close game in OT to UCLA 58-54 in Pullman over the weekend. Current events set the stage for this to be a coaching duel from the opening tip-off. WSU Coach Ken Bone was without the services of 2 of his 5 starters with point guard Reggie Moore out to an injury & leading scorer Klay Thompson suspended for breaking team rules. UCLA coming to town is also a tough match anytime & Coach Ben Howland prides himself on coaching the game through timeout & game situation play.
While both teams started out cold before UCLA finally put in the first bucket. WSU saw early success running a high post with a cutting man under the basket. UCLA seemed to have no answer early to the smaller and quicker Cougs making shot after shot. WSU stretched the lead to 15, before UCLA Coach Ben Howland starting taking key timeouts to cool off the hot shooting Cougs. In the meantime, Coach Bone had the Cougars ready to play. The defense was terrific and the ball movement under the basket was spot-on leaving the UCLA big men standing there with cement in their shoes. First half coaching winner- Coach Bone for player rotation & offensive/defense game plan.
As soon as the second half started it was clear that UCLA made adjustments. They shut down the WSU cutting game under the basket and forced the Cougars to start shooting from outside. UCLA also picked up the game pace and started to run a fast breaks to the paint. Coach Howland went to his “bigs”and played and inside-outside game that the Cougs could not stop. UCLA put together a 15 run to tie the game before taking a small lead. The Cougs came back & tied it with Faisel Aden hitting a big 3 to send the game to overtime. Second half coaching winner- Coach Howland & UCLA for game adjustments.
In OT, UCLA came out and clearly had momentum. They ran the floor and put in the first couple of buckets early. The Cougars looked flat and did not have a game plan to match the up-temple game in overtime. WSU came back and tied it up with a couple of minetes remaining. The Cougs who had played most of the game at their pace was unable to stop the Bruins on the run. After both teams traded typical end-of-game fouls, the Cougs had a chance to put a couple points up on the Bruins. The Coug’s Aden failed to deliver key free throws when the team needed them the most. UCLA’s Malcom Lee, who was injured earlier in the game, came in made his free throws putting UCLA up by 4. The Cougars had one last chance but turned over the ball on a sloppy in-bounds pass. UCLA snuck out of Pullman with a victory knowing they had dodged a bullet. OT advantage- Coach Howland for time management & situation play in OT to win the game.
Overall it was a very good game for the Cougars with the team playing above their talent & fan expectations. Brock Motum had a great game scoring 15 points in the early part of the game. WSU’s Faisel Aden, ended up with 14 points but struggled most of the game. DeAngelo Casto added 9 points after being”doubled” most of the game. Abe Lodwick also put in 9 points & Capers closed out the game with 5. Statistically, the game was fairly evenly matched with the exception of rebounding. UCLA grabbed 34 to the Coug’s 24 and was the only other factor other than Coaching the game.
The Cougars needed the win to advance their changes to the NCAA’s. The loss dropped them to 7th in the PAC 10 (9-9, 19-11 overall) and makes winning at the conference tournament critical. The Cougars will need to have starters Thompson & Moore back as they are matched up to play the Huskies in their first tournament game.