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Sports >  WSU basketball

No. 9 UCLA rolls past Washington State, hands Cougars most lopsided loss of season

Feb. 4, 2023 Updated Sat., Feb. 4, 2023 at 8:50 p.m.

Washington State guard Justin Powell dribbles past UCLA guard Amari Bailey during Saturday’s Pac-12 game in Los Angeles.  (WSU Athletics)
Washington State guard Justin Powell dribbles past UCLA guard Amari Bailey during Saturday’s Pac-12 game in Los Angeles. (WSU Athletics)

Ninth-ranked UCLA overpowered visiting Washington State after halftime Saturday and handed the Cougars their most lopsided loss of the season.

The Bruins built a commanding lead midway through the second half and blew past WSU 76-52 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.

UCLA (19-4, 10-2 Pac-12), which sits atop the conference standings, recorded its 21st consecutive home win – the nation’s longest active streak – and improved to 62-2 in home games against WSU since 1949. The Cougars (10-15, 5-9) have lost 15 straight road games to the Pac-12’s L.A. schools.

Before Saturday, the Cougars’ largest margin of defeat this season was 14 points – road losses to Oregon and Utah, which were tightly contested until the final minutes. The 24-point loss in L.A. was much less competitive.

WSU nearly upset the Bruins on Dec. 30 in Pullman but stumbled down the stretch and suffered a one-point loss. In the rematch, the Cougars fell into a nine-point hole at halftime, cut the deficit to seven early in the second half but never got closer than that.

“I thought our guys got off to a good start, and we just weren’t able to sustain it,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “(UCLA’s) depth and quickness and strength kind of took its toll.

“Their will trumped us a little bit. We just didn’t have another run in us. They’re too good to get down that much.”

The Bruins had a 13-0 run that began with 13:33 left to fashion a 20-point lead, which they preserved for the final 9 minutes.

All-Pac-12 forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 24 points (9-of-17 shooting from the field) and added 15 rebounds for UCLA.

“He’s a good athlete with good instincts and he’s tough – significantly tougher than most,” Smith said of Jaquez.

Guard Jaylen Clark scored 12 points, and guard Amari Bailey added 10 for UCLA, which shot 48.4% from the field and 9 of 22 from 3-point range.

The Cougars were held to 30.9% from the field – their second-lowest field-goal percentage in a game this season.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Smith said of the shooting struggles.

WSU shot 9 of 27 on 3-pointers and committed 15 turnovers, eight during a 7-minute stretch in the first half that allowed UCLA to separate from a tight game and take a 10-point lead.

“That’s all it takes – they were winning and we got a little off-kilter and we weren’t getting shots,” Smith said. “That stretch of turnovers midway through the first half kind of dug us a hole that we couldn’t really (overcome). You’re going to have to bury some shots and keep grinding, and we weren’t able to.”

Guard TJ Bamba led WSU with 19 points. Guard Justin Powell contributed 15, shooting 5 of 10 on 3s. Bamba and Powell combined to shoot 11 of 24 from the field. The rest of the Cougars totaled 16 points on 6-of-31 shooting.

WSU center Mouhamed Gueye was held to six points (3-of-13 shooting from the field) and four rebounds. The 6-foot-11 sophomore had a career night on Thursday in WSU’s loss to USC, totaling 31 points and 12 rebounds. Gueye had 18 points and 18 boards in the Cougars’ first game against UCLA, but lost his second matchup with UCLA big man Adem Bona, who had nine points, three blocks and four rebounds.

“ ‘Mo’ has got to be the best player for us to win that game,” Smith said. “He’s gonna have to be one of the best players on the floor. Credit to (UCLA). They were really physical with him. They bothered his post moves, bothered some of his shots. Coming off the tough loss we had Thursday, we just didn’t have enough.”

WSU played its second consecutive game with only seven scholarship players available.

Starting forward DJ Rodman and reserve guard Dylan Darling were out with illnesses. Backup center Adrame Diongue, who missed the USC game with an illness, played sparingly.

“We have 7¼ scholarship guys – I give (Diongue) a quarter,” Smith said. “To beat that team … guys are going to have to play above and beyond.”

WSU returns to action Saturday at home against rival Washington.

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