Dec. 22, 2001
By JOHN K. WILEY
Associated Press Writer
PULLMAN, Wash. - The problem for UCLA coach Steve Lavin was familiar. So was the solution.
Dan Gadzuric scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half as the 19th-ranked Bruins rallied to beat Washington State 79-74 Saturday.
As they did against Washington on Thursday, the Bruins (7-2, 2-0 Pacific-10) trailed for most of the first half, but went inside to Gadzuric to win it in the closing minutes of the game.
"It's interesting that both our games at Washington and Washington State were identical, in terms of the flow of the game, the score at the half, and even the outcome," Lavin said. "In the second half, we made a concerted effort to get Dan involved.
"It's a tale of two halves on two consecutive games," Lavin said. "Hopefully we'll do a better job on Thursday (against Columbia) ... and play better in the first half."
The Bruins were trailing 37-29 at halftime when Gadzuric, a 6-foot-11 senior, scored the first five points of the second half. He finished 7-of-8 from the field and 6-of-12 from the free-throw line.
"We played with less intensity in the first half," Gadzuric said. "They came out strong and out-competed us on the boards and we weren't executing on offense.
"At halftime, the coaches emphasized our intensity and we came out and played much better in the second half."
Cougars coach Paul Graham's problem was finding someone who could match up with Gadzuric.
"He's bigger and stronger than anyone we've got," Graham said. "We were right there, we just didn't make it."
A layup by Jason Kapono with 1:33 remaining put the Bruins up for good at 73-71. Kapono finished with 14 points - 12 in the second half - and eight rebounds.
"We just haven't been playing well in the first half," Kapono said. "I don't know what it is, but we can't keep going down by eight or 10 points. This is definitely something we're going to need to fix."
One cure was Kapono's play in the second half, Lavin said.
"Jason is a real matchup problem for opponents," Lavin said. "He can play well from the back of the basket. We invert our bigger players in the paint."
The Bruins went to the press in the second half to counter WSU's zone in the first half.
Graham said the Cougars were able to break the press and score, with only one or two turnovers because of it. WSU had 12 turnovers to UCLA's 11.
Still, the defensive effort seemed to energize the UCLA offense, Graham said.
Billy Knight scored 16 points for the Bruins and Matt Barnes had 15.
Washington State (4-5, 0-1) outshot the Bruins in the first half, hitting 14-of-30 from the field, while the Bruins' went 11-for-28. UCLA improved in the second half, finishing 28-of-53 from the field to the Cougars' 27-of-58.
The Cougars held their own against the taller Bruins on the backboards, with 30 rebounds to UCLA's 32.
Marcus Moore led the Cougars with 17 points and eight rebounds and Jerry McNair added 14 points for the Cougars, who lost at home for the first time this season.
The Bruins have won 18 consecutive games against WSU, which last beat UCLA on Feb. 6, 1993, in Pullman. It was the 27th consecutive loss for the Cougars against a ranked team.
"We shot the ball better today," Graham said. "UCLA made some plays down the stretch and we didn't."