For Starters, Bruins Cut It Way Too Close


Sixteen seconds from a loss, and about 22 feet from the basket, Toby Bailey went on instinct.

And on a night of shooting struggles for him, this time, the ball went straight into the basket, and UCLA’s win streak went to six.

“I love to shoot the clutch shot,” Bailey said after UCLA’s grueling, 78-73 conference-opening overtime victory over Washington State before 11,897 at Spokane Arena Thursday night.


“I love the pressure of the end of the game like that, when I kind of can just go on instinct, let my instincts take over.”

Bailey’s three-point shot from the deep right corner ripped through the net with 15.7 seconds left in regulation, tying the game, 66-66, and giving the Bruins (8-3) the momentum to steal victory from the tiring, short-handed Cougars in overtime.

The Bailey shot--created when Jelani McCoy grabbed the rebound from Kris Johnson’s three-point miss and quickly shoveled it to Bailey, in stride--capped a UCLA rally from a nine-point deficit (65-56) with 3:59 left in regulation.

“Down nine with four-something to go was certainly a gut check for our ball team,” said UCLA Coach Jim Harrick. “I was just saying, hey, get us into overtime.”

Washington State’s Fontaine, who finished with 17 points, and point guard Donminic Ellison, who finished with a team-high 19, played more than 40 minutes, and the Cougars were clearly winded as the game progressed.

Which is when Bailey, suffering his first off-shooting night in a month, took over.

Bailey, who had been fairly quiet for most of the game--making only two of his first seven shots--was all over the court in the last four minutes of regulation and the five-minute overtime.


He began the big comeback with a 24-foot bomb from way past the top of the key, missed two free throws in overtime that let Washington back in, and made a sweeping block of Fontaine’s short jumper in the lane, also in overtime.

“I was just thinking, ‘There’s no way I’m going to let them get a score here, even if I have to goal-tend the ball,” Bailey said of the block.

After Washington State missed three shots in the flailing final seconds of regulation, UCLA jumped out to a quick, 72-68, lead in overtime.

But Washington State (7-2), playing without injured star senior forward Mark Hendrickson and its other two main front-court players disqualified on fouls, fought back to tie the game, 72-72, with 64 seconds remaining in overtime.

J.R. Henderson, who led all scorers with a career-high 29 points, put the Bruins ahead for good, 74-72, after receiving a perfect pass from Cameron Dollar, and Charles O’Bannon made two free throws with 8.6 seconds left to help seal the game.

“I was just trying to concentrate, keep my mind pretty much off the foul shots,” said O’Bannon, who scored 14 points and harried Cougar shooter Isaac Fontaine into a five-for-17 shooting night. “I was just trying to let it flow.”


UCLA held Washington State to a single field goal in the final 9:29 of the game (4:29 of regulation and the overtime).

Washington State made only 22 of its 73 field-goal attempts (30.1%) and was outrebounded, 48-35.

For the Bruins, Henderson again dominated the Cougars inside--his previous career high was 28 last year in Pullman, Wash.--making 11 of his 13 field-goal attempts and grabbing nine rebounds. McCoy had a game-high and career-high 15 rebounds.

“I really don’t know what it is [about playing at Washington State],” Henderson said. “Tonight, they obviously didn’t have as much offensive spark from their [big forward] spot without Mark Hendrickson, so I was able to concentrate on my offense.”

UCLA’s late surge overcame a mostly sluggish game for the Bruins, who lost their conference opener last season at Oregon. With Johnson having a difficult time matched against Cougar guard Shamon Antrum (17 points), UCLA trailed, 31-26, at halftime.

“We got out of here with a win at a time we were not playing very well,” Harrick said. “I was surprised at how passive we were in the first half.”


UCLA Notes

Junior center Ike Nwankwo, who remained in Los Angeles to have his wisdom teeth removed, has been given permission to look into a transfer to another school. The 6-foot-11 Nwankwo, from Houston, had hoped to compete for the starting center position this season, but has played only 29 minutes behind freshman Jelani McCoy and sophomore omm’A Givens.