PULLMAN — CJ Elleby made a clutch corner 3 to tie the game at the end of regulation and Isaac Bonton scored eight points in overtime to help Washington State pull off a 79-71 come from behind victory over UCLA on Saturday night.
After making a season-low five field goals in the first period, Washington State (10-5, 1-1 Pac-12) clawed its way back against a big and physical team that has outrebounded each of its 15 opponents this year.
“We just got to get better shots, but it was good game,” said WSU Coach Kyle Smith. “After Thursday’s loss I’m really proud of ours guys. Your team can really get divided in not shooting the ball well. These guys deserve the win. They’re a good group, they’re fun to coach, they’re going to try hard and they give their best effort.”
Bonton, who has been shooting 32.1 percent this season, went 7 of 14 for 17 points and had five rebounds and five assists.
“A lot of people have been saying I’m in a slump and I don’t really believe in a slump. I work hard every single day,” Bonton said. “My coaches really believe in me. It’s just a matter of time until the shots fall.”
Elleby had 15 points and Aljaz Kunc chipped in 12 for the Cougars.
UCLA (8-7, 1-1) dominated the game defensively during the first period, holding Washington State to just 28% shooting but couldn’t keep their momentum going in the second period. The Cougars shot 56% in the second, outrebounded the Bruins 16-13 and won the battle in the paint 22-16.
Chris Smith had 22 points, Prince Ali scored 11 and Jules Bernard had 10 for the Bruins.
“I am disappointed in our defense in the second half today,” said UCLA Coach Mick Cronin. “We probably played three halves with toughness over our two games in Washington and today we didn’t play with toughness in the second half. We sat down and got some stops and gave ourselves a chance to win at 65-62 and then we had another defensive breakdown which was just par for the course.”
Washington State managed to close the UCLA lead in the second to 53-52 with the help of eight quick points from backup forward Tony Miller and four from backup guard Ryan Rapp.
The Cougars took their first lead of the second with 7:36 remaining when Bonton made a lay-up to make the score 54-53.
“That group was going so good and got us the lead,” Smith said. “Tony has been so steady in everything he does. His work and his approach. He just feels good out there and plays hard.”
Down three with 20 seconds remaining, Elleby’s clutch 3-pointer from the corner tied the game at 65 at the end of regulation.
In overtime, Washington State outscored UCLA 14-6 with Bonton leading the way. He scored eight of the Cougars’ last 10 points to close out the Bruins.
UCLA: The Bruins finish their first Pac-12 road trip 1-1 against the Washington Schools.
Washington State: The Cougars finished their first Pac-12 homestand 1-1.
UCLA: The Bruins host Southern California next Saturday.
Washington State: The Cougars play at California on Thursday.