Los Angeles, CA — After a tough loss against its cross town rival USC last week, the Bruins knows their time together is short and March Madness is on the horizon.
Senior Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 24 points and a career-high 15 boards on 9 of 17 shooting, and No. 9 UCLA beat Washington State 76-52 on Saturday night to win its 21st consecutive home game at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA (19-4, 10-2 PAC-12) own the nation’s longest active home winning streak, including a 13-0 mark at Pauley Pavilion this season.
“We took the pressure off ourselves. A lot of times you get pressure from outside sources, media, people telling us this or that. Today we came together,” Jaquez said. “We played with a lot different attitude, a lot more positive attitude, not thinking about anything other than winning a game.”
Both teams went back-and-forth at the start, but the Bruins manage to take a 35-26 lead heading into the break.
Three of the Cougars’ first four buckets came from downtown, giving them an 11-7 lead early on. UCLA’s defense tightened up on the perimeter allowing their offense to go on a 13-2 run.
UCLA got it done on both ends of the hardwood scoring their most points against a Power Five opponent since Dec. 14 and holding their opponent under 54 points for just the second time in the last month.
The second half has been the Bruins’ achilles heel over the past few weeks, but they figured it out on Saturday night.
Washington State (10-15, 5-9) was without second-leading scorer DJ Rodman. The senior missed both games in Los Angeles because of illness. WSU were led by TJ Bamba with 19 points. Justin Powell chipped in 17, hitting five 3-pointers.
UCLA got the three balls out of Jaquez and guard Amari Bailey early in the second half to up their lead by 14 points. Right after Washington State got Bamba and Justin Powell hit 3-pointers of their own, the Bruins sprinted out a 13-0 run that sealed the win.
Center Adem Bona was the stalwart of UCLA’s defensive effort, blocking three shots, and recording two steals. His ability to switch and locked down the paint area helped the Bruins hold the Cougars to 3-for-20 from the field in the final 14 minutes of play.
“It was closer to playing 40 minutes with the intensity that we want,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “We needed it.”
Guard Jaylen Clark’s trey sparked that defining stretch for UCLA, and triples from guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. and guard David Singleton put them up by double digits for the first time all night.
The Cougars lost to the Bruins by one point at home on Dec. 30 after leading for over 35 minutes in the game. This time, WSU kept it close early in the first half before UCLA twice pulled away to leads of 10 points.
The Bruins dominated the second half. Jaquez scored 10 of their first 15 points. He had four in a row to lead an 11-0 run that stretched UCLA’s lead from single digits to 57-38.
“We’re playing for something bigger than ourselves,” Singleton told them. “I just wanted to make them think about it.”
Point guard Tyger Campbell only scored four points, but he accounted for nine of his team’s 18 assists. The Cougars, on the other hand, only hit 17 field goals on the night.
UCLA can make it three wins in a row on the road against Oregon State on Feb. 9, with that game tipping off at 6:00 P.M.