PULLMAN, Wash. — The hole was too deep. It was clear this was the end.
Not only the end of the game for UCLA – an embarrassing 73-61 loss to Washington State, the pity of the Pac-12 conference – but the end of a 19-year win streak at Beasley Coliseum.
Few predicted a performance like this from either team, but no one, not even the few Cougar fans in attendance, saw what was coming next.
Leading by 10 with less than 90 seconds left on the clock, Washington State senior Brock Motum cleaned the ball off the glass, just one of the Cougars’ 46 rebounds on the evening. UCLA had 23.
He relayed the ball ahead to junior Will DiIorio who had little other than open floor ahead of him. UCLA freshman guard Kyle Anderson was too late. He caught up just in time to commit a meaningless foul.
The crowd rose to its feet at the urging of Cougar players. UCLA followed with another missed 3-pointer, this one from freshman forward/guard Shabazz Muhammad who picked the wrong night to have his worst shooting performance of the season.
It was the first of two for redshirt junior D.J. Shelton. They sandwiched one last missed Bruin 3-point attempt. The previous Pac-12 front-runners launched more shot attempts from beyond the arc than inside it.
There was no doubt about this one. With the Bruins showing no defensive resistance, Shelton ran to the rim untouched before cradling the ball, savoring his team’s first win since January, and slamming it home one final time.
“That’s embarrassing and that shouldn’t happen,” said redshirt junior forward David Wear. “If anything, we should foul or keep playing defense. There was still a minute and a half left. We have to know they’re going to try to score.”
Just four days after wowing the nation by playing one of its most complete games of the season in a win over Arizona, No. 23 UCLA (22-8, 12-5 Pac-12) fell flat on its face against conference bottom feeder Washington State (12-18, 3-14), who was missing two of its top three scorers to injury.
The Bruins fell behind 25-4 early and never led.
“We knew it was a long basketball game,” said freshman guard Jordan Adams, who led the Bruins with 18 points. “We just tried our best to get back into it.”
The Cougars’ lead never shrunk to fewer than six points.
Coach Ben Howland called the loss his team’s most disheartening performance of the season.
“I’m sitting there trying to figure it all out after the game, thinking about it. … I don’t know,” Howland said. “I’m at a loss. But I didn’t do a good enough job preparing these kids for how hard this was going to be.”
Redshirt junior forward Travis Wear left the game in the second half with a right foot injury, the extent of which is unkown. A similar injury to the same foot forced him to miss two recent games.