PULLMAN - Washington State fans staged a "Gray Out" on Saturday, but the Cougars faithful could not prevent a fade out by their shorthanded basketball team.
The Cougars battled to build a stunning 32-19 halftime lead against UCLA, then ran out of magic in a 58-54 overtime loss at Friel Court.
“Give all the credit in the world to Washington State for the way they came out and completely dominated the first half with all the adversity,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
The Cougars (19-11 overall, 9-9 Pacific-10 Conference) played without All-America candidate Klay Thompson and point guard Reggie Moore. Coach Ken Bone said the status of both starters is uncertain for Thursday’s quarterfinal game with Washington (8:30 p.m. FSN) at the Pac-10 tournament in Los Angeles.
The sixth-seeded Cougars are 2-0 against the third-seeded Huskies (21-9, 12-6).
Moore sprained his right ankle Thursday against USC. Thompson was suspended by Bone on Friday after being cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
A crowd of 9,317 gray-clad fans, already on their feet for pre-game introductions, remained standing and applauded loudly after Thompson grabbed a microphone and addressed the fans.
“I had bad judgment,” Thompson said. “ I’d just like to apologize and say I’m truly sorry.”
“It’s something that he wanted to do,” Bone said. “I, and we as a team, are proud of the fact that he said what he said to the crowd.”
Thompson, one of the nation’s leading scorers with 21.4 points per game, watched the from the bench. He saw his team hold the Bruins to one basket the first seven minutes – the teams combined to miss all 12 shots in the opening 31/2 minutes – and lead most of the way.
“I’m proud of the effort,” WSU’s Abe Lodwick said.
The Cougars have lost 18 straight home games to UCLA, including two in Spokane, since a 1993 victory.
The Cougs used seven players, including walk-ons Ben Loewen and Will DiIorio.
UCLA (22-9, 13-5) outscored WSU 5-1 in the final four minutes of regulation.
UCLA’s Malcolm Lee sent the game into overtime by sinking two free throws with 8.9 seconds remaining after injuring his knee on the drive.
Lee snapped a 54-54 tie with two more free throws with 6.9 seconds remaining in overtime after a WSU turnover. Finally, Lee added two more freebies after UCLA’s Jerime Anderson deflected Lodwick’s inbounds pass off Marcus Capers (who started at point guard) and out of bounds.
The Bruins shot 39 percent from the field, in spite of 2-of-17 accuracy on 3-pointers, but hit 93 percent of their free throws (14 of 15). The Cougars shot 40 percent from the floor and 57 percent at the line (8 of 14), including two costly late misses by Faisal Aden.
Aden started at wing for Thompson. He scored 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting. He bounced a 3-point attempt off the front rim under heavy pressure at the end of regulation. He drained a 3 to forge a 54-54 tie in overtime.
Reserve forward Brock Motum led WSU with 15 points. Reeves Nelson topped UCLA with 23 points, and added eight rebounds.
Teammate Tyler Honey-cutt, scoreless in the first half, wound up contributing 10 points, 10 rebounds and big plays at both ends of the floor. Former Kentwood High standout Joshua Smith added 10 points and five rebounds.
The Cougars have no seniors, but Loewen started on Senior Day because he is a redshirt junior who does not plan to play next season.