Washington State fell in a 58-54 overtime thriller against UCLA in the Pac-10 finale, Saturday at Beasley Coliseum. The Cougars were up 32-19 at the half but saw their 13-point disappear by the halfway point in the second period Faisal Aden had a chance to hit the game winner at the end of regulation but the shot was off the mark and the teams headed to overtime where the Bruins outscored the Cougars 10-6. The loss seals a sixth seed in the conference tournament with a 9-9 record. The Cougars could tie for fifth in the conference if Washington beats USC at home, but USC wins the tiebreaker in that scenario.
Player of the Game: Brock Motum. Motum led the Cougars in scoring with 15 points, and notched four rebounds in 28 minutes of action. The sophomore found ways to get open and convert in traffic around the rim as well as hit open shots in crucial moments of the game. With five minutes left in regulation, Motum nailed a big jump shot and followed it up with a layup the following possession.
Play of the Game: Finishing through contact. Four minutes into the game, the score was tied at two until Marcus Capers stole the ball from Lazeric Jones and was off to the races with no one in between him and the basket. By the time he reached the basket, Reeves Nelson had closed the gap and put a hard foul on Capers. The contact forced Capers to put up an awkward attempt that somehow found its way to the bottom of the net as he crashed to the floor. He was not down long though, getting back up to convert the three-point play.
Stat of the Game: The uncharitable stripe. WSU came into tonight's game shooting 71 percent from the free-throw line but went 8-of-14 from the stripe tonight, including a 3-of-8 performance during the second half and overtime. While the Cougars underperformed from the line, the Bruins story was exactly the opposite. UCLA came in shooting 68 percent but went 14-of-15 tonight and a perfect 4-for-4 in overtime.
Turning Point of the Game: New half, new team. UCLA came out of the locker room at halftime down by 13 points but looked like an entirely different team in the second half. The Bruins' opening possession resulted in a dunk by Joshua Smith which sparked a 16-3 run over the first eight minutes to tie the game. UCLA scored 12 of those 16 points inside the paint, something the team had not been doing earlier in game, finishing the entire first half with only 14 points in the paint.
The Cougars will travel to Los Angeles for the Pac-10 Tournament next week, where they face rival Washington in their first game. Tip-off will be at 8:40 p.m., Thursday, March 10. WSU swept Washington this season, including an 80-69 win in their last meeting. The entire tournament will be televised on FSN except for the championship game, which will be aired on CBS.
Until Next Time...Go Cougs!