This post was updated Jan. 5 at 9:25 p.m.
The Bruins won one-and-a-half games before failing to end their road trip with a perfect start to conference play.
UCLA men’s basketball (8-7, 1-1 Pac-12) fell to Washington State (10-5, 1-1) 79-71 in overtime in Pullman, Washington. The Bruins entered halftime with a nine-point lead but were outscored 41-32 in the second half and then 14-6 in overtime.
UCLA had an 11-point lead with 13 minutes remaining in the contest, but Washington State switched to a zone defense and held the visitors to just four points over a six-minute period.
Cougar guard CJ Elleby entered the game fourth in the conference in average scoring with 19.3 points per game, but foul trouble and the Bruin defense held him to just 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting. However, it was Elleby’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining that sent the game to overtime.
Junior guard Chris Smith led UCLA with 22 points and seven rebounds. His foul trouble limited him to just 25 minutes, and his three missed free throws were part of a 13-of-21 effort for the Bruins at the foul line.
Smith was not the only Bruin struggling with fouls, as sophomore guard Jules Bernard fouled out, and the team committed 27 total fouls to put the Cougars in the double bonus early on in both halves. Washington State took 32 free throws, making 23 en route to a comeback win – the Cougars’ first in conference play.
Both teams started out cold, with neither scoring for the first 2:48 of the game before redshirt senior guard Prince Ali broke the early scoring drought with a pull-up jumper from midrange.
Washington State had very few answers for the UCLA defense in the first half, as a 1-of-16 shooting stretch put the Cougars in a hole during the final 10 minutes of the half. The Bruins held the hosts to just 5-of-24 shooting from the field and 2-of-14 from inside the arc in the first period.
The two teams went back and forth early in the second half, with UCLA holding at least a six-point lead until 10 minutes were left in regulation.
After the second media timeout, the Cougar defense contained the Bruins to just 15 points in the remainder of the period, allowing the home team to take its first lead of the second half with 6:42 left in regulation.
UCLA split its Washington games with two close contests and will now have a week to prepare for its first game against crosstown rival USC.