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Washington State holds off UCLA, 81-73

Cougars led by as much as 22 points in early 2nd half

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Washington State guard Isaac Bonton, right, shoots while pressured by UCLA guard Jules Bernard during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Pullman, Wash., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Washington State won 81-73.
Washington State guard Isaac Bonton, right, shoots while pressured by UCLA guard Jules Bernard during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Pullman, Wash., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Washington State won 81-73. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) Photo Gallery

PULLMAN — Isaac Bonton scored 26 points and Washington State avenged an ugly 30-point blowout from four weeks earlier with an 81-73 win over UCLA on Thursday night.

Bonton had four of the Cougars’ 13 3-pointers on 22 attempts (59%), which turned the tables on the Bruins.

UCLA, which finished 5 of 20 behind the arc, were 9 of 16 from deep, shot 54% overall and made 16 of 18 free throws in a 91-61 victory on Jan. 14.

When the Cougars opened the second half with a 17-5 run for a 59-37 lead with 12:25 to play, it had historians scrambling for the last time WSU beat UCLA by 20. It happened once in 1937, 48-25, but it was only WSU’s 19th win in 129 games in the series.

But the Bruins slapped on the press and used an 8-0 run to steady the ship as the Cougars got in foul trouble. Then, after T.J. Bamba’s 3-pointer at the 3:54 mark put WSU up 76-60, the UCLA pressure picked up.

An 11-2 run cut the deficit to seven with 1:18 to play. Bonton made 3 of 4 free throws to secure the win.

Aljaz Kunc scored 13 points off the bench for Washington State (12-8, 5-8 Pac-12 Conference) and DJ Rodman added 11.

Johnny Juzang scored 25 points, 17 in the second half to fuel the rally for UCLA (13-5, 9-3), which was coming off an 18-point loss to USC. Tyger Campbell added 17 points.

The Cougars hit 7 of 12 3-pointers — but only 5 of 14 inside the arc — to open a 42-32 lead at the half. The Bruins went 3 of 11 from distance and shot 39% overall.

They took the lead for good when Kunc converted a three-point play to break a tie and followed with a 3-pointer 29 seconds later, making it 20-14.

No. 20 USC is at Washington State on Saturday when UCLA heads to Washington.

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