Kevin Eastman now knows how it feels to go to war with an arsenal of cap pistols.
Washington State’s first-year men’s basketball coach took his suspension-riddled Cougars into Pauley Pavilion Saturday afternoon, ran directly into a wonderfully talented UCLA team that was playing as well as it has all season and got blasted.
The final score was 91-78, Bruins. But less than 2 minutes into the second half if was apparent that UCLA coach Jim Harrick could have mailed in the score of his 200th game as a Bruin.
“UCLA played good,” Eastman said after watching his undermanned Cougars lose two in a row for the first time. “I wouldn’t say they played at an NCAA-Tournament level, but we hadn’t seen them play like this on the video we watched.”
UCLA’s dominance was remarkable. The sixth-ranked Bruins shot 56.7 percent from the field, making 38 of their 67 shots. They defended like piranhas, forcing 21 WSU turnovers, and they ran at every opportunity, creating hordes of easy baskets out of transition.
Senior All-American Ed O’Bannon made 10 of 14 shots and finished with 20 points, the same as teammate George Zidek, a 7-foot, 250-pounder, who was able to muscle his way inside and cripple the Cougars with an assortment of short hook shots.
Charles O’Bannon added 19 points and senior point guard Tyus Edney chipped in with eight points, 11 assists and five steals as UCLA ran its Pacific-10 Conference record to 3-1 and its overall record to 9-1.
WSU, in the absence of starting point guard Donminic Ellison and forward Tavares Mack, who were suspended for missing curfew after Thursday night’s 85-76 loss to Southern California, slipped to 2-2 and 6-5.
The Cougars got 20 points from Shamon Antrum, 15 from Mark Hendrickson and 14 from Chris Griffin, a freshman making his first college start at the point in place of Ellison.
WSU’s scoring leader, Isaac Fontaine, made only 2 of 11 field-goal tries and was held to seven points - almost 12 below his average. He had scored in double figures in every game this season.
“Defensively, we played well,” said Harrick. “It’s as good as we have played all year. We executed our offense and shared the ball. But Edney was the catalyst.”
The Bruins were simply, bigger, better and much deeper on the bench.
The Cougars were left with only 10 players after Mack and Ellison, who is from the Los Angeles area, were sent back to Pullman Friday. The two are scheduled to meet with Eastman Monday to discuss the possibility of any further disciplinary action, but Eastman said he thought both would play in Thursday night’s home game against Oregon.
There should be no misconception, however, that the absence of the two had anything to do with the ultimate outcome.< UCLA survived an early 3-point shooting barrage by the Cougars and opened up a comfortable 48-36 halftime lead. The Bruins then put WSU away with an 11-point run at the start of the second half.
The Cougs tried everything. They played small with three guards, but that left the 5-10 Antrum matched up defensively against the Bruins’ 6-9 freshman J.R. Henderson.
They played big, with Hendrickson, Rob Corkrum and David Vik on the front line, but couldn’t cope with UCLA’s athleticism.
They pressed some and tried to break on occasion, but UCLA did both more often and much more productively.
About the only thing the Cougars didn’t try was quitting, and that - coupled with a predictable late-game letdown by the Bruins - helped keep the final score more respectable than in had a right to be.
Eastman said his players were down emotionally because of the loss of Ellison and Mack.
“We missed the steadying influence of Donminic and the athletic ability of Tavares,” he said. “This was the kind of game around the basket where Mack might have really helped. He’s the kind of guy who can play well above the rim.”
Still, Eastman was happy with the way his team battled to stay even in the latter stages of the second half.
“We learned a lesson,” he said. “This was an important game for the development of our players as people. As a coach (dealing with the suspensions), you wonder if maybe you don’t let the game get really out of hand and, without a doubt, prove a point. Then you service two players.
“Or, do you go and try to work your butts off and stay as respectable as possible and serve 10 players? Our comeback was one of the keys to the game because there are a lot of teams across the country that would have quit playing - and we did not.”
Harrick said he was impressed with the Cougars’ collective heart, even without two of their top players.
“WSU’s a good team,” he said. “I see now why they beat two Top 25 clubs last week.”
UCLA 91, Washington St. 78
WASHINGTON STATE (6-5)
Hendrickson 6-7 3-3 15, Daniel 4-9 0-1 8, Fontaine 2-11 2-2 7, Antrum 6-12 3-4 20, Griffin 6-11 0-0 14, Warmenhoven 0-3 0-2 0, Corkrum 0-2 9-10 9, Vik 2-2 1-2 5, Topper 0-1 0-0 0, Bortels 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-58 18-24 78.
E.O’Bannon 10-14 0-0 20, C.O’Bannon 8-11 1-3 19, Zidek 7-9 6-6 20, Henderson 2-4 1-2 5, Edney 4-5 0-1 8, Bailey 2-7 1-4 5, Dollar 0-1 2-4 2, Johnson 1-7 1-2 3, Givens 3-5 1-2 7, Nwankwo 1-3 0-0 2, Myers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-67 13-24 91.
Halftime-UCLA 48, Washington 36. 3-Point goals- Washington St. 8-15 (Antrum 5-8, Griffin 2-2, Fontaine 1-3, Warmenhoven 0-2), UCLA 2-8 (C.O’Bannon 2-3, E.O’Bannon 0-1, Henderson 0-1, Johnson 0-1, Bailey 0-2). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Washington St. 34 (Hendrickson 10), UCLA 35 (E.O’Bannon 7). Assists-Washington St. 14 (Antrum 7), UCLA 24 (Edney 11). Total fouls-Washington St. 20, UCLA 20. A-10,632.
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