Cougs look like '03, not '08, in Pauley loss

UNBLEMISHED RECORD OR NOT. Lofty national ranking or not. Washington State came into storied Pauley Pavilion on Saturday and did what Washington State has done since the building was opened: Lose. And badly – badly, that is, until a crazy firestorm of three-pointers near game's end that made it exciting.

Late treys aside, the super-hyped showdown between the No. 4 Cougars and No. 5 Bruins was mostly one sided.

Turnovers. Fouls. Bad passes. Lapses on defense. Missed chip shots. Butterfingers. You name it, and the Cougs did it.

This wasn't a game. It was a wake up call that bordered, for much of the first half, on humiliation.


Still, the Cougs refused to give in to their miscues or the Bruins' excellence. WSU nailed seven straight three-point shots down the stretch -- by Derrick Low, Taylor Rochestie and Daven Harmeling -- to close the gap to 74-71 with 16 seconds left.

Given what had transpired before that barrage started with about two minutes left in the game, the comeback bordered on the miraculous.

The Bruins, though, sealed it with two Kevin Love free throws and then scored a gimme basket at the buzzer to make the final score 81-74.

"They kind of overwhelmed us. We couldn't get any stops," WSU head coach Tony Bennett told the Cougar Sports Radio Network. "It was a very poor defensive performance."

Two statistics that almost always play in the Cougars' favor – points surrendered off turnovers and fastbreaks – told the tale, Bennett noted.

UCLA scored 14 points off WSU turnovers and 12 on fastbreaks.

"When the game was on the line, we couldn't come up with the stop," Bennett said. "It was disappointing we couldn't hang in their defensively."

The Bruins' 81 points was 31 more than what the Cougars, one of the nation's top defensive teams, surrender on average per game.

THE SCORE AT HALFTIME WAS 35-22 -- a margin of difference that belied just how awful the Cougars looked in those first 20 minutes. WSU missed 12 of its first 14 field goal attempts and didn't hit its first – a Taylor Rochestie layin -- until the game was almost nine minutes old. They trailed at one point by 18.

UCLA coach Ben Howland said the first 20 minutes represented the finest half of basketball his team had played this season. The Cougs turned in what had to be their worst.

The calendar says 2008, but for stretches Saturday the Cougar faithful may have thought they'd been transported back to 2003.

Daven Harmeling, the hot-handed star of Thursday's big win over USC, didn't get off a shot – a 3-pointer that he canned while being fouled – until the 9:36 mark of the second half.

After Harmeling converted his subsequent free throw, Kyle Weaver stole the ball on UCLA's next possession and Aron Baynes converted it for two. That pulled the Cougs within ten, their closest deficit since the early going, at 51-41.

Derrick Low, who scored all of his 24 points in the second half after first-half foul trouble, canned a three-pointer with 5:10 left in the game to get the Cougs within eight at 57-49.

The Bruins built the lead back to as many as 15, but then the Cougs started their late avalanche of three-pointers to make it close at the end.

The loss drops WSU to 14-1. UCLA improves to 16-1. UCLA has now won 28 of the last 29 games between the schools and is 50-1 when playing the Cougs in L.A., and 42-1 at Pauley.

Kevin Love, the big Bruin freshman from Oregon, lived up to all his hype, scoring 27 points and pulling down nearly as many rebounds, 14, as the entire Cougar team.

The Cougs return to Friel Court Thursday and Saturday against Oregon State and Oregon.


TONY BENNETT HUDDLES WITH TEAM AFTER PULLING WITHIN THREE IN WANING SECONDS.


BIG KEVIN LOVE GOES HIGH OVER HARMELING AND FINISHED WITH 27 POINTS.


HARMELING IN THE MIDDLE AGAIN, THIS TIME VS. JOSH SHIPP.


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