PULLMAN – CJ Elleby made a clutch corner three-pointer to tie the score with 20 seconds left in regulation and Isaac Bonton scored eight points in overtime to help Washington State pull off a 79-71 come-from-behind victory over UCLA on Saturday night.
After making a season-low five field goals in the first half, Washington State (10-5 overall, 1-1 Pac-12) clawed its way back against a big and physical team that has outrebounded each of its 15 opponents this year.
“We just got to get better shots, but it was good game,” said coach Kyle Smith, who is in his first season at WSU. “After Thursday’s loss (to USC), I’m really proud of our guys. Your team can really get divided in not shooting the ball well. These guys deserve the win. They’re a good group, they’re fun to coach, they’re going to try hard and they give their best effort.”
Bonton, who has been shooting 32.1% this season, went 7 of 14 for 17 points and had five rebounds and five assists.
“A lot of people have been saying I’m in a slump and I don’t really believe in a slump. I work hard every single day,” Bonton said. “My coaches really believe in me. It’s just a matter of time until the shots fall.”
Elleby, a graduate of Cleveland High School in Seattle, had 15 points and Aljaz Kunc chipped in 12 for the Cougars.
UCLA (8-7, 1-1) dominated the game defensively during the first half. WSU was 5 of 24 from the field (21%) in the first half and shot 57% (20 of 35) the rest of the way.
Chris Smith had 22 points for the Bruins.
“I am disappointed in our defense in the second half today,” said UCLA coach Mick Cronin. “We probably played three halves with toughness over our two games in Washington and today we didn’t play with toughness in the second half. We sat down and got some stops and gave ourselves a chance to win at 65-62 and then we had another defensive breakdown (on Elleby’s three-pointer), which was just par for the course.”
In overtime, Washington State outscored UCLA 14-6. Bonton scored eight of the Cougars’ last 10 points.