The Washington State Cougars went 20 years between basketball victories over UCLA in Pullman, and now they've taken down the Bruins for a third-straight time at home. WSU used hot shooting and held off a late run to take down No. 25 UCLA, 85-78, on Sunday night in Beasley Coliseum for its first Pac-12 win of the season.
WSU held a lead for most of the game, and built it to double-digits for the first time at 61-51 following a Renard Suggs layup-plus-one with 10:50 left. Facing a gassed Bruins squad that fell in double overtime to UW on Friday, the Cougs wouldn't sweat much the rest of the way with their advantage never falling below six points.
Josh Hawkinson was his typical awesome self, posting a WSU record-tying ninth-straight double-double. The junior scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but it was some unexpected guard production that propelled the Cougs to victory.
With Ike Iroegbu struggling to score (although he did post seven assists), transfer guards Charles Callison and Suggs stepped up their games. Callison got things going with a pair of early 3-pointers, and finished with 12 points on 5-9 shooting and four assists. Suggs hit 4-8 from the floor, and knocked down 4-5 free throws to finish with 14. Que Johnson chipped in 14 of his own, including back-to-back threes in the second half that effectively put the game out of reach.
Conor Clifford was a spark off the bench for the Cougs, hitting all five of his shots to finish with 10 points, including a number of nice-looking post moves.
Overall, the Cougs shot very well, hitting 9-20 from three and finishing with a blistering 63.4 effective field goal percentage. They needed that shooting, as UCLA got 27 points from Isaac Hamilton and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds as a team.
It's encouraging that WSU has the offensive skill, and just enough defense, to contend and beat some of the better teams in the Pac-12. This is far and away the Cougs' best win and best performance to date.
Maybe it will be enough to draw a few extra students back to Pullman for WSU's next meeting against Washington on Saturday at noon.
One more thing: Just Like Football