Bruins Get Defensive Against Cougars, Win 81-74
By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report
Freshman Kevin Love scored a career-high 27 points and the Bruins hit their free-throws down the line to withstand a furious Cougars late rally to win 81-74 in a battle between two Pac-10 heavyweights.
Down 68-56 with just 1:37 minutes remaining in the game, Washington State hit seven consecutive three-point shots to pull within three points of the Bruins with 13 seconds remaining. But then Kevin Love hit his two free throws to put the game out of reach.
During the Cougars three-point fireworks display, the Bruins kept them at bay by making 9 of 10 free throws down he stretch.
Yet the final flurry of shots by the Cougars - really an act of desperation as a result of falling behind early, should not overshadow a game completely dominated by the Bruins.
Love had his best offensive game as a Bruin by scoring in the paint with a variety of post moves, including an improving jump hook shot, and he also stepped out to hit two three-point shots. He finished the game shooting 9-12 from the field and 7-10 from the line.,
He out-dueled Cougar's center Aron Baynes who had been touted as one of the most improved players in the conference. Love held Baynes to just 1-3 shooting and 8 points. The Bruin freshman center also hauled in a game-high 14 rebounds to lead his team to an astounding 33-18 rebound advantage over Washington State.
UCLA came out from the start with an intensity worthy of a game between No.4 and No.5 ranked opponents. The Bruins applied overwhelming defensive pressure on the ball that had the Cougars reeling and standing on their heels.
The Bruins raced out to an 11-1 lead after the first six minutes and didn't allow a Cougar field goal until the nine minute mark when Taylor Rochestie finally scored on a lay-up to make the score 16-6.
Offensively, UCLA did a good job executing their motion offense and finding Love inside or a cutter for any easy shot - the Bruins took only nine three-pointers in the entire game. They shot a sizzling 63.6% in the first-half and finished the game with 57.7% shooting.
Washington State faced getting blown out in the first half when UCLA went on a 10-2 run to push the score to 26-8 with five minutes remaining. But the veteran Cougars stayed resilient and battled back like a No.4 ranked team, outscoring the Bruins 16-9 to trail 35-22 at halftime. Taylor Rochestie capped off the first half scoring with a deep three-pointer to draw the Cougars closer.
In the second half UCLA extended the lead back to 18 points, but then Washington State's leading scorer Derrick Low, who had been held scoreless in the first half, began to heat up.
Low, a senior guard from Hawaii, scored 24 points in the half ,with most of the shots tightly contested - even Bruin defensive stalwart Russell Westbrook was helpless against the hot-shooting Low. As a result, the Cougars stayed within striking distance of UCLA which allowed them to scratch back with their final minute three-point theatrics.
Darren Collison battled back from a hip pointer injury to score 18 points on 5-8 shooting including 8-9 from the line. He had a key basket midway through the second half after the Cougars cut the lead to eight, Collison drove down the lane and made an acrobatic lay-up as he was fouled.
Josh Shipp added 14 points while teammate Russell Westbrook dropped in 12, including an acrobatic slam dunk to excite the Pauley crowd of 12,590.
With the win, UCLA (16-1, 4-0) sits atop the Pac-10 conference in first-place, one-half game ahead of the upstart Arizona State Sun Devils (13-2, 3-0).
The Bruins will now have a week of practice to prepare for a game against crosstown rivals USC next Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.
(photo credit: AP)
Labels: Game Summaries