How often do you see a team come back from an eight-point deficit with slightly more than two minutes left in a double-overtime game?
If the Bruins hadn't won, they would have been second-guessing themselves for not putting the Cougars away when they had the chance.
"We gave them the opportunity to stay alive five times," UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard said. "We just couldn't ice it. It was a much-needed win because we haven't been playing well."
Nevertheless, the Bruins got their first road victory of the season and stayed respectable in the Pacific 10 race with a 2-2 record. They're 7-4 overall.
When WSU center Brian Quinnett drove for a layup and a 80-72 advantage with 2:04 remaining in the second overtime, it seemed that the Bruins were finished. What did Hazzard think at the time?
"I thought we'd score nine straight points to win it," he said smiling, his hoarse voice almost becoming a whisper because of the emotional circumstances.
"I also told my players to not quit after we came out of a huddle. I think they showed a lot of character."
UCLA forward Reggie Miller ignited his team's surge with five straight points on two drives and a free throw. He wound up with a career-high 35 points, making 13 of 16 from the foul line.
Hatcher then took over the offense. He buried a 20-foot shot and came back with four seconds remaining to hit his bomb from the left side.
Corey Gaines was in the game at the time, replacing point guard Pooh Richardson, who had fouled out.
"The play that was called was for me and Reggie to pop out on either side," Hatcher said. "We knew that they would be in a zone. Corey got me the ball, and Jerald Jones set a nice screen."
While UCLA rallied, Washington State went cold from the free-throw line. Guard Keith Morrison, forward Joe Wallace and guard Brian Wright all missed on the front end of one-and-one attempts with 1:16 left.
The Cougars called time out after Hatcher's shot, and then Coach Len Stevens and his players complained bitterly when the clock showed only two seconds remaining. They thought they had more time.
Morrison threw a long inbounds pass to 7-foot center Todd Anderson near the foul line. He got off a shot, but it wasn't close.
It has been nervous time for the Bruins in recent years in the Palouse country. UCLA has played three overtime games here in five years, winning two of them.
Hazzard said that several of his players came of age Saturday afternoon, notably junior center Jack Haley. He grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds while playing 44 minutes.
Haley, a 6-10 junior, who had lost his starting job to Craig Jackson until this weekend, is coming on at the propitious time. The Bruins haven't had a stopper in the middle. Now, they apparently have one.
"Jack Haley is our center," Hazzard said. "He was born today."
Stevens was even more emphatic, saying: "Haley just killed us on the boards. He was very active and very aggressive. It was as if he knew the only time he was going to get his hands on the ball was on a rebound."
Haley started against Washington Thursday night in Seattle and virtually disappeared as UCLA was routed, 90-65. He got only one rebound and two points while playing a quiet 13 minutes.
"Sidney Wicks (a UCLA assistant coach) told me after the game to not worry about making mistakes and play like I do in practice," said Haley, who didn't play organized ball until he went to junior college. "Coach Wicks said if I didn't play hard, I'd have to play against him in practice."
Haley also talked about a long bus ride across the state of Washington to Pullman that brought the team together as a unit. More about that later.
The euphoria in the UCLA locker room was tempered by an injury to forward Kelvin Butler.
Butler strained a stomach muscle when Quinnett got WSU'S final points on a layup in the second overtime. He was carried off by his teammates on a stretcher.
Later, he was grimacing in pain as another stretcher took him out of the arena to an ambulance headed for Pullman Memorial Hospital. He didn't stay in the hospital for long, but it's believed that he'll be sidelined indefinitely.
There is momentum in losing as well as winning. Hazzard noted this when he said, "If we had lost, it could have been a big, long slide in the wrong direction."
The Bruins began sliding with 33 seconds left in regulation play. Miller made two free throws for an apparently safe 61-57 lead. But guard Brian Winkler cut into the lead by hitting two foul shots with 29 seconds left.
Richardson then inbounded the ball, but his pass intended for Miller was picked off by Winkler, who was fouled and converted a pair of free throws with five seconds on the clock.
The UCLA guard said later that Miller was pinned down by Wright and that the ball went over his head. Miller confirmed Richardson's observation.
Hatcher got off an errant shot before regulation time expired, but he was cited for traveling before he released the ball.
So, the 61-61 tie prompted an overtime period.
The Bruins quickly moved ahead, and when Miller made a three-point play with 48 seconds remaining, the Cougars were apparently beaten, trailing, 72-67.
Then, Anderson made a three-point play with 36 seconds to play. Butler missed his first try on a one-and-one from the line, and Quinnett rebounded the miss.
Winkler, who came off the bench to torment USC in a 67-58 WSU win here Thursday night, took it to UCLA. He dropped a shot from the top of the key with 17 seconds to play.
Richardson then missed on an off-balance jumper at the other end, and Morrison threw up a 55-foot prayer that wasn't answered as time expired.
The second overtime belonged to Washington State, until UCLA made it remarkable run.
The Bruins usually fly to Spokane out of Seattle, then bus to Pullman for their games with the Cougars. But Spokane was socked in Friday due to heavy fog, and UCLA had to take a seven-hour bus trip across the state.
Haley said it was the first time the team had been together on the road for an extended period of time. Their early experiences were negative, a 37-point loss to North Carolina and the thrashing from the Huskies.
"We had a chance to air things out on the long bus ride," Haley said. "We came out of it as a family."
They also came out of it as a winner, however harrowing.
Bruin Notes UCLA shot only 40.1% from the field, worst effort of the season, compounded by 25% shooting in the first half. . . . Montel Hatcher wound up with 24 points on 10-of-22 shooting. . . . Pooh Richardson had 12 assists along with 7 turnovers. . . . By losing, WSU has a 1-3 league record, 8-9 overall. . . . UCLA's 25-point loss to Washington Thursday night was its worst margin of defeat in a conference game since it lost to USC, 60-24, in 1940.