Washington knew they were up against it playing at the #9 team in the country and entering as a 17.5 point underdog. It took UCLA less than 10 minutes to get ahead by that margin as UW looked lifeless early. Mike Hopkins went with an all-veteran approach in the 2nd half and the Huskies made it semi-competitive down the stretch but ultimately UCLA pulled away by a 70-61 margin. The loss drops Washington to 13-11 (5-8) on the season.
After giving up 57 points in the 2nd half to Arizona the last time on the floor it didn’t appear that much had changed for the Huskies tonight. It took UCLA about 5 seconds to score their first basket as Braxton Meah directed the tipoff towards his own basket where Jaylen Clark outmuscled 2 Huskies for it and layed it in. Things didn’t really slow down from there as UCLA got whatever it wanted in the paint possession after possession.
That was helped by a turnover prone Husky offense (shocker). The Dawgs had 13 turnovers in the first half which turned into 15 points for the Bruins. It took Washington nearly 4 minutes to score their first points on a Keion Brooks jumper as UCLA got out to an 8-0 early lead. For a few minutes the Huskies kept pace and got it to 14-8 before the wheels completely fell off.
UCLA countered with a 12-0 run that lasted more than 6 minutes as Washington oftentimes had no chance getting off a quality shot against UCLA’s stifling defense. Braxton Meah finally dunked on a cut to the basket with 6:44 left in the first half to end the run and get the Dawgs into double digits.
Washington was 2/25 from the 3-point line a few weeks ago against UCLA and both teams struggled from deep early. The Huskies missed their first 8 attempts from deep while UCLA missed their first 5 such shots. It didn’t matter much for the Bruins though as they had 26 of their first 30 points come from inside the paint.
Eventually, they knocked down a pair of 3’s but Keion Brooks did as well and UCLA called timeout with Washington within 11 at 33-22 with just over a minute remaining. The timeout worked as UCLA ended the half on a 5-0 run and went into halftime with a commanding 16-point advantage.
It was an odd start to the 2nd half as UCLA was called for 3 fouls on defense on the first possession yet somehow it still ended with PJ Fuller getting a heave attempt of a 3-pointer blocked for a shot clock violation. Cole Bajema knocked down a couple of open 3’s to once again get the Huskies as close as 11.
Every time though that Washington got it to within that magic number of 11 points though it seemed the UCLA answered with a 3-point make of their own. It happened twice, once by Jaquez and once by Bailey, to keep the Huskies at bay. Finally though PJ Fuller hit a deep 3 with 8:14 remaining to cut the lead down to single digits for the first time at 54-45. Keion Brooks went to the line on a 1-and-1 with a chance to get it further but missed the front end. After a Jaquez make in the lane Brooks was fouled and again missed the front end.
UCLA answered with a 3-pointer and there went any chance for the Huskies to seriously challenge. Washington ended up cutting it to 6 with 33 seconds remaining but UW never got it to within a single possession.
Keion Brooks Jr. led Washington with 23 points but had just 2 rebounds. Overall the Huskies were bludgeoned on the boards finishing -13 in that regard. Braxton Meah (10 points, 6 rebounds) played the vast majority of the 2nd half with 4 fouls before committing his 5th in the final 2 minutes. Cole Bajema and PJ Fuller each had 11 points and shot a combined 6/12 on 3’s.
Now Washington is on a 2-game losing streak and their next 2 games over the next 9 days are road trips to USC and Washington State.