After WSU (14-11, 7-7 in Pac-12) pulled within four early in the second half, UCLA (18-5, 10-4) flipped the switch and ended the game on a 35-19 run to hand WSU their second double-digit loss in four games. The Cougars made only four shots from the field during that UCLA run.
With the season winding down, the Cougars have been in search for that resume booster of a win all year and haven’t been able to find it yet. Thursday night’s game presented another opportunity for WSU to launch themselves back into bubble conversation should they come out with a win. Especially with the Bruins down a key piece in the starting rotation, as starting point guard Tyger Campbell who was suspended prior to the game for a team violation. The Cougars will now have to look elsewhere for that win.
The Bruins threw an early haymaker, even without the star junior guard, by taking a 13-point lead in the first 8:11 of the ballgame. The Cougars missed their first seven shots of the game while the Bruins hit their first six. UCLA’s offense finally cooled off as the half progressed and WSU’s defense began to settle in, preventing the game from getting too out of hand early. Despite the dominance from the Bruins early on, WSU, somehow, only trailed by 10 points at the half, even with WSU’s 9-of-28 from the field.
The beginning of the second half was much kinder to the Cougars than the first. Tyrell Roberts cut the lead back into single digits with a three on a fast break a minute into the half. DJ Rodman drew a foul on three point attempt two minutes later and hit all three free throws. All of a sudden, despite how much better UCLA looked all game, the Cougars were within four. They were just two possessions away from being tied or even in the lead against the 13th-ranked team in the AP poll on the road.
Then, much like the Arizona game, the opponent’s offense erupted and WSU’s scoring drought returned.
UCLA erased all hope for the Cougars with a 15-1 run in just three minutes to push the deficit from a manageable four to a rout of 18. The lead blossomed to 21 before Andrej Jakimovski ended the Cougars 7:50 field goal drought. Johnny Juzang scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, including 12 of UCLA’s 14 over a five minute stretch in the back half of the second half to push UCLA’s lead to a game-high of 25 and erase the slightest hopes of a WSU comeback. Ryan Rapp and Matt DeWolf hit late free throws to prevent WSU from losing by more than 20.
Despite some promise early in the second half from the Cougar offense, WSU wound up shooting just 6-25 from the field and 2-13 from distance in the half. WSU only made 28.3% from the field overall in the game. Tonight also marks the first time Noah Williams scored an offensive rating of over 100 on KenPom and the Cougars lost.
The Cougars will look to rebound and end their losing streak against the USC Trojans on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.