Victory Is a Bruin Lowlight
Call it great defense by UCLA, because it certainly was.
Call it a dominating performance by the Bruins, because it was that as well.
But to call it what it was, the word ugly must also appear in any description of Thursday night’s 50-30 victory by the Bruins over Washington State at Friel Court, the lowest point total by a Bruin opponent in 39 seasons.
The words inept, disheartening and embarrassing would also do in describing the Cougars.
Washington State fell behind, 14-0, then 18-2 and were never heard from again. The Cougars missed their first five shots, two of which were airballs, missed open look after open look at the basket, failed to make it to the free-throw line until more than eight minutes were gone in the second half and sent courtside observers scrambling to their press guides to look up the weakest offensive efforts in team history.
It’s not news that the Bruins have carved out their impressive record, now 20-4, including a conference-leading 10-2 and a 6-0 mark on the road, by shutting down opposing offenses.
But this was nearly a total lockout.
“They won the game in the first 10 minutes,” Washington State Coach Dick Bennett said. “They took our heart away early. They played the game the way it should be played, with toughness and skill and smarts. We were dominated by a great team and a great coach. There was no letup by them. They had the same intensity from start to finish.
“It was an awful night for us. We were not even able to find the basket. There was a lack of intensity and fundamentals.”
The numbers tell the story. Washington State shot 27.5% from the floor, including 0 for 7 from the three-point line. That broke a streak of 300 games in which the Cougars had scored from behind the arc. It was the fewest points the Cougars had scored at home since losing to Oregon State, 51-30, in the 1946-47 season.
Washington State (10-10, 3-8) scored only 12 points in the first half. Because the Bruins do not keep such records, it is unknown if that is an all-time low for a UCLA opponent. What is known is that the 30 points are the fewest UCLA has given up since beating Oregon, 34-25, in the 1966-67 season.
Not counting Derrick Low, who didn’t take a shot in eight minutes in his return from a fractured right foot, the Cougars’ top two scorers coming into the game were Josh Akognon (11.4) and Robbie Cowgill (9.7). Between them Thursday, they were three for 18 from the floor, Cowgill going one for 11.
“I couldn’t make a shot to save my life,” Cowgill said. “We’ve got to be able to finish in traffic. We were missing even when there wasn’t any traffic. It was pretty grim.”
With the game clearly in hand early, the Bruins played so conservatively that they wound up with their lowest point total of the season
“It’s hard to score against them,” UCLA’s Cedric Bozeman said. “The way they run their offense for 30 seconds, you are exhausted by the time you get the ball.”
Jordan Farmar, who was questionable after spraining his left ankle Saturday against Arizona, not only played, but led the team with 20 points in 29 minutes.
Farmar had been excused from practice this week and had been in a walking boot. But after taking part in the pregame shootaround with his ankle heavily taped, he told Coach Ben Howland he was ready to go.
“The way I had the foot taped, there was not really much that could happen to it,” Farmar said.
Howland said he never had a doubt.
“Jordan would have to have something broken not to play,” Howland said.
Farmar, who came into the game leading the Pacific 10 Conference in assists with 5.8 a game, failed to record an assist for the first time in his career.
“We are so casual,” said Bennett, trying to find a polite way to describe his player’s intensity level. “I told them before the game that, if they were not ready, UCLA could take their breath away.”
This season, the Bruins have left a lot of teams breathless. And hopeless.