LOS ANGELES (AP)Just over a week removed from a spirit-crushing loss to crosstown rival Southern California, UCLA gave itself an attitude check.
Senior David Singleton gathered his teammates and reminded them that their time together is short. March is on the horizon and the ninth-ranked Bruins want to make a national championship run.
”We’re playing for something bigger than ourselves,” Singleton told them. ”I just wanted to make them think about it.”
Jaime Jaquez Jr. heard his fellow senior loud and clear. It showed in UCLA’s 76-52 win over Washington State on Saturday night.
Jaquez had 24 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in the Bruins’ 21st consecutive home victory.
”We took the pressure off ourselves. A lot of times you get pressure from outside sources, media, people telling us this or that. Today we came together,” Jaquez said. ”We played with a lot different attitude, a lot more positive attitude, not thinking about anything other than winning a game.”
The Bruins (19-4, 10-2 Pac-12) own the nation’s longest active home winning streak, including a 13-0 mark at Pauley Pavilion this season.
”It was closer to playing 40 minutes with the intensity that we want,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. ”We needed it.”
Washington State (10-15, 5-9) was without second-leading scorer DJ Rodman. The senior missed both games in Los Angeles because of illness. The Cougars were led by TJ Bamba with 19 points. Justin Powell added 17, hitting five 3-pointers.
The Cougars lost to the Bruins by one point at home on Dec. 30 after leading for over 35 minutes in the game. This time, WSU kept it close early in the first half before UCLA twice pulled away to leads of 10 points.
”We did a good job of not letting them get comfortable even though they came out firing,” Cronin said.
The Bruins dominated the second half. Jaquez scored 10 of their first 15 points. He had four in a row to lead an 11-0 run that stretched UCLA’s lead from single digits to 57-38.
”He’s got great talent,” Cronin said. ”He can do whatever you need him to do.”
The Cougars committed 11 of their 15 turnovers in the first half. UCLA scored 19 points off WSU’s miscues.
Washington State: The Cougars are trending in the wrong direction with six games left in the regular season. They’ve lost five of six and two straight. Of their remaining games, two are against teams that are below them in the Pac-12 standings.
UCLA: The Bruins have eight regular-season games remaining in which to preserve their Pac-12 lead. The biggest one comes at the end when they host No. 5 Arizona, the team chasing them in the standings. The Wildcats won 58-52 in Tucson last month, snapping UCLA’s 14-game winning streak.
BETTER IN EVERY CATEGORY
The Bruins were better than the Cougars in every category. They outscored WSU 36-12 in the paint and their bench outscored WSU’s reserves, 17-0. Singleton had eight points off the bench to go with three rebounds, three steals and two assists.
”I only have so many games left, so I decided I wanted to play my heart out,” he said. ”It’s not even about points, it’s about the hustle plays.”
Washington State: Hosts rival Washington on Feb. 11.
UCLA: Visits Oregon State on Thursday.
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