Another double-double from Brock Motum was not enough to erase an 18-game losing skid.
It seemed like WSU was going to beat the Bruins in Pullman for the first time since 1993 until the Bruins went on a 13-2 run during the second half as they cruised to 63-30 victory.
“Down the stretch, last ten-twelve minutes, their height hurt us,” Head Coach Ken Bone said. “They had a number of lay-ups, dunks that we just had a hard time contesting.”
Motum led the attack once again for the Cougars (12-11, 4-7). Fresh off his 26-point performance against USC, the junior erupted for 25 points and 10 boards on Saturday.
The Cougars could not protect the ball against the Bruins (13-10, 6-5) as they had 15 turnovers, which led to 18 UCLA points.
“I thought our guys played hard but we played real sloppy, and turnovers really cost us,” Bone said. “We don’t have a defense for those turnovers that end up in break-away lay-ups.”
Nonetheless, the Cougs played tough on the glass as they collected 37 rebounds, compared to 30 for the Bruins.
Point guard Reggie Moore had to leave the game early on after he collided with D.J. Shelton following a lay-up by Moore. Nonetheless, Moore returned later during the first half.
Senior Abe Lodwick energized the crowd early on as the Cougs grabbed an 11-10 lead on a thunderous put-back dunk.
The game got physical toward the end of the first half, as UCLA’s Anthony Stover received a flagrant foul after he pushed Motum to the ground. The crowd erupted as the referees had to separate the two squads after the incident.
WSU immediately went on a 7-0 run following the foul as Lodwick and Motum nailed back-to-back three pointers to give the Cougs a 32-25 lead.
It was more of the same for WSU in the first half.
Motum was the focal point of the Cougars offense through the first period. The junior led all scorers with 19 points to go along with five rebounds as he played the entire first half.
After the game, Motum said he is looking for team victories rather than individual accolades.
“I’m just doing everything I can to help the team win,” Motum said. “If I get shots I’m going to put them in. Once they collapse in, I’m going to kick it out and our guards are going to make shots.”
Junior Mike Ladd also had six points during the first half as the Cougars’ held a 34-29 halftime advantage.
Kent-native Joshua Smith led UCLA with 11 points on 5-5 shooting. The 305-pound Smith finished the game with 19 points and five rebounds.
Motum said the Cougs threw different defensive looks at Smith, but he continued converting regardless.
“We just tried to stop him getting the ball,” Motum said. “We tried to front him. We tried everything. But he was still pretty effective. Once he gets it down there, there’s not much anyone can do.”
WSU’s perimeter defense was on display in the first half as they held UCLA to 39 percent shooting in the first half, including only 2-9 from downtown.
The game kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout the second half as the score remained close.
UCLA grabbed their first lead since the first half at 52-51 with 8 minutes remaining. From there the Bruins began to attack the painted area and pushed their lead to seven points.
The Cougars simply could not convert their chances down the stretch as WSU had an eight-minute stretch with only one field goal.
That was until Lodwick knocked down a three-pointer to cut the Bruin lead to 58-54.
WSU simply could not convert down the stretch as the Bruins’ lead remained intact to the finish.