LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Whatever Ben Howland said to his UCLA players
at halftime must have worked, because the Bruins wouldn't be denied
no matter how long the game went.
Dijon Thompson converted Brian Morrison's steal off Washington
State's Thomas Kelati into a go-ahead breakaway layup late in the
second overtime, and UCLA beat the Cougars 80-77 on Thursday after
erasing a 17-point second-half deficit.
"We talked about stepping up our intensity," center Ryan
Hollins said. "We knew we were going to come back and win this
ballgame by pressuring the ball and getting after them on
defense--something we lacked in the first half."
Freshman point guard Jordan Farmar scored 17 of his 19 points
after halftime for UCLA (8-3, 2-1 Pac-10) and Morrison had 15.
Farmar also had six assists, four steals and no turnovers in 46
minutes, after playing 27 minutes without a turnover during
Sunday's 70-62 win at Oregon. The Bruins, who entered the game
averaging a conference-worst 17 turnovers, finished with only 11.
"That was a great comeback," Howland said after the Bruins
outrebounded an opponent for the fourth straight game (43-39).
"They totally dominated us in the first half, but we did a better
job of being patient in the second half and did a better job
defensively. This team has a never-say-die attitude. I was
impressed with the character we displayed tonight."
The Bruins, playing their first conference home game of the
season, shot 8-for-25 in the first half and trailed 36-21 at
intermission. For a while, they seemed in danger of eclipsing the
school record-low of 41 points, set on March 14, 1996, in a 43-41
loss to Princeton during the first round of the NCAA tournament.
"They did a good job of getting us out of synch," Farmar said.
"We took bad shots, we hurried our offense and didn't play with
intensity in the first half. They came out with a good game plan."
Thomas Kelati had 18 points and Jeff Varem 17 for the Cougars,
who nearly pulled off their second straight win at Pauley Pavilion.
"It was a heartbreaker to lose," coach Dick Bennett said. "We
broke down in a lot of areas, and UCLA made all the plays it had to
make. We couldn't keep them off the glass and we couldn't keep
Farmar out of the lane."
Last February in their previous visit to Pauley, the Cougars won
55-48 despite shooting 36 percent from the field and nearly blowing
a 14-point second-half lead. That win was Washington State's first
ever here in 39 visits, ending a 22-game losing streak to the
Bruins and a string of 46 consecutive defeats against them at Los
UCLA was held to a season-low 48 points in both meetings with
Washington State last season, winning the game at Pullman by three
points. The Bruins haven't scored fewer than 48 since Dec. 11,
1999, when Gonzaga beat them 59-43.
UCLA turned it around in the second half and forced overtime
with a closing 23-9 run. Farmar hit a 3-pointer that gave the
Bruins a 69-64 lead with 1:19 left in the first OT. But Kelati beat
the buzzer with a 3-pointer after Hollins missed both free throws
at the other end with 6.1 seconds on the clock, and the teams went
to a second extra period.
Washington State (6-6, 1-1 Pac-10) did not make a field goal
after Thompson's go-ahead basket in the second OT, and he clinched
the victory with three free throws in the final 25 seconds.
The Bruins had a chance to take their first lead of the game
with less than three minutes left in regulation, but Thompson,
Farmar and Josh Shipp all missed 3-point shots on the same
possession. After Hollins made one of two free throws to tie it at
59-all, the Bruins got a stop at the other end and Varem swatted
away Farmar's driving layup.
The Bruins finally pulled ahead 61-59 for their first lead on
Thompson's putback of Morrison's missed 3-point shot, but Kelati
responded with a 3-pointer just 15.5 seconds from the end of
regulation to give the Cougars a one-point edge. Shipp made one of
two free throws for UCLA, and Hollins blocked Kyle Weaver's bid for
a go-ahead layup with three seconds on the clock, sending the game