Reeves Nelson scored 23 points, and Malcolm Lee hit four free throws in the closing seconds of overtime to lift UCLA to a 58-54 victory over wounded Washington State on Saturday.
PULLMAN — Reeves Nelson scored 23 points, and Malcolm Lee hit four free throws in the closing seconds of overtime to lift UCLA to a 58-54 victory over wounded Washington State on Saturday.
Arizona’s victory earlier in the day prevented UCLA (22-9, 13-5 Pac-10) from having a chance to tie the Wildcats for the Pac-10 title.
Washington State (19-11, 9-9) played without suspended star Klay Thompson and injured point guard Reggie Moore (ankle). But it nearly managed to break a home losing streak to UCLA that now stands at 18.
Cougars coach Ken Bone said he will decide in the next few days if Thompson, the Pac-10’s leading scorer at 21 points per game, will play in this week’s conference tournament. He was suspended after being cited for marijuana possession Thursday.
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UCLA coach Ben Howland warned his team the Cougars were likely to come out strong.
“Games like this are tough,” Howland said. “They banded together in adversity.”
Faisal Aden hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 54 with 1:17 left.
The Bruins turned it over on a shot-clock violation, but the Cougars gave it right back, and Lee was fouled while going for a layup with 6.9 seconds left. He made both for a 56-54 lead. Washington State turned the ball over on the inbounds play and had to foul. Lee made both shots for the final points.
Thompson walked onto the floor in street clothes just before tipoff and took the microphone. He apologized to fans in a brief statement.
“I made a mistake,” Thompson said to the roaring crowd, then was embraced by teammates and sat on the end of the bench for the game.
Of Thompson’s statement, Bone said, “It was something he wanted to do. I think it came from the heart.”
Nelson made 10 of his 13 shots. Lee finished with 11 points, making all seven of his free throws.
Bone said the loss of two of his team’s best players meant the remaining players played a lot of minutes.
“We were pretty effective early on,” said Bone said, whose team led 32-19 at halftime. “We were not as effective in the second half, when I think our legs were tired.”
Aden played 42 minutes and sank just 4 of 17 shots. He missed a key free throw at the end of regulation that might have given WSU the win.
“It’s hard for him to go 42 minutes,” Bone said of the slender Aden.
Brock Motum led WSU with 15 points, while Aden finished with 14.
At halftime, Howland said he warned his team that its NCAA tournament hopes were at stake.
“I put it on the shoulders of my team, and they raised their intensity defensively,” Howland said.
The Bruins opened the second half with an 11-1 run to get within 33-30 on Lee’s basket. Tyler Honeycutt’s three-pointer for UCLA tied the game at 35.
The loss means Washington State, the sixth seed, will meet third-seeded Washington on Thursday night at 8:30 in the Pac-10 tournament in Los Angeles.
UCLA (22-9) — Nelson 10-13 3-4 23, Honeycutt 4-11 0-0 10, Stover 0-0 0-0 0, Lee 2-10 7-7 11, L. Jones 1-9 2-2 4, Lamb 0-2 0-0 0, Anderson 0-2 0-0 0, Lane 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 4-7 2-2 10. Totals 21-54 14-15 58.
WASHINGTON ST. (19-11) — Casto 4-7 1-5 9, Lodwick 4-10 0-0 9, Capers 2-5 1-1 5, Aden 4-17 4-6 14, Loewen 0-1 0-0 0, DiIorio 1-2 0-0 2, Motum 6-10 2-2 15. Totals 21-52 8-14 54.
Halftime — WSU 32-19. End of regulation — Tied 48. Three-point goals — UCLA 2-17 (Honeycutt 2-6, Anderson 0-1, Nelson 0-1, Lee 0-4, L. Jones 0-5), WSU 4-13 (Aden 2-6, Lodwick 1-3, Motum 1-4). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — UCLA 38 (Honeycutt 10), WSU 29 (Aden, Capers 5). Assists — UCLA 13 (L. Jones 6), WSU 15 (Capers, DiIorio 3). Total fouls — UCLA 13, WSU 14. A — 9,317.