PULLMAN, Wash. — Mick Cronin preaches defense every season for a reason.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 20 points, Adem Bona made the winning basket with 19 seconds left and No. 11 UCLA used a terrific defensive effort down the stretch to overcome a 12-point first-half deficit and beat Washington State, 67-66, on Friday night.
The Bruins (12-2 overall, 3-0 Pac-12) won their ninth straight thanks to stingy defense in the final 10 minutes when the Cougars (5-9, 0-3) went cold shooting and allowed UCLA the chance to rally.
Jaquez scored 16 points in the second half and was 10 for 10 at the foul line. Tyger Campbell added 16 points and David Singleton had 14, hitting a jumper with 1:43 left that pulled the Bruins within 64-63.
Former JSerra High standout DJ Rodman led Washington State with a season-high 19 points and had a good look at a winning 3-pointer in the final seconds, but it hit the rim and UCLA won on the Palouse for only the third time in its last eight trips.
Mouhamed Gueye added 18 points and 18 rebounds for Washington State. His free throws with 1:14 left gave the Cougars a 66-63 lead. But Jaquez hit a pair from the foul line to pull the Bruins within one and after a Washington State turnover, Bona’s layup attempt was goaltended by Gueye and gave UCLA the lead. It was the Bruins’ first lead since 5-3.
Washington State scoring leader TJ Bamba was held to five points on 2-of-9 shooting. The Cougars missed 11 of their final 12 shots and didn’t have a field goal after Justin Powell’s 3-pointer with 7:23 remaining.
UCLA: The Bruins played without starting guard Amari Bailey because of a sore foot. Bailey traveled with the team but did not suit up. Bona started in Bailey’s place and finished with seven points.
Washington State: The Cougars have lost five of six and seven of nine in the month of December. Five of those losses have been by nine points or less.
UCLA plays at Washington on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Washington State hosts USC on Sunday at noon.
More to come on this story.