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UCLA Beats the Law of Averages : Bruins: They handle Washington State for the 34th time in a row in L.A., 86-64, after shooting 73.1% in second half.

March 08, 1991|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The drought continues, with no letup in sight.

Washington State still has not beaten UCLA in Los Angeles after losing to the Bruins, 86-64, Thursday night before 8,354 at Pauley Pavilion.

That's 34 losses in a row to the Bruins in Los Angeles.

The latest was close until the second half, when UCLA shot 73.1% to win in a rout and improve its record to 22-8 overall and 10-7 in the Pacific 10 Conference.

"We lost our grip on the game and a lot of it had to do with, UCLA just wouldn't miss," said Washington State Coach Kelvin Sampson, whose team fell to 16-11 and 8-9. "They just kept making shots."

It that sounds familiar, it's because in UCLA's 99-91 victory over the Cougars last week at Pullman, Wash., the Bruins overcame a nine-point halftime deficit by shooting 63.9% in the second half.

In the rematch, UCLA made its first eight second-half shots.

"We had a little talk at halftime," UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said. "We needed to get back to hitting the open man and making the extra pass, and I thought we did that as well in the second half as we have all year. We shared the ball and hit the open man."

Down toppled the Cougars, who only eight days ago were talking about attracting a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Since then, they have lost once to USC and twice to UCLA.

"Our basketball team is kind of in unchartered waters," said Sampson, who endured an 18-game losing streak at the end of last season, then brought in eight new players. "We're a very young team, and we've done some things this year--maybe we've overachieved to a certain extent.

"We led UCLA by 12 (in the first half last week), and I haven't seen us since. And, unfortunately, we've played five halves of basketball since then. We've played a lot of good basketball, but unfortunately, a lot of people may remember us for the last month instead of the whole season."

The Cougars flew south with an 0-25 record at Pauley Pavilion, and Harrick all but guaranteed they wouldn't improve on it.

"I understand the law of averages," Harrick said this week, "but I'm not about to let them come in here and beat us this time. . . .

"They had their chance two years ago--they came in here and had a layup to win the game and missed. So, if they don't want to take advantage and make that shot, they can wait 25 more (years)."

Undaunted, Washington State took advantage of the Bruins' poor shooting and shoddy ballhandling in the first half and took a 25-17 lead, making five three-point shots in the first 11 minutes.

But UCLA then hit the Cougars with an 18-5 run, taking the lead, 31-30, on a three-point play by Tracy Murray, who was fouled as he dunked after taking an alley-oop pass from Darrick Martin. Murray then added a free throw.

The Bruins, who got 25 points on eight-of-12 shooting from Don MacLean and 18 points from Murray, never trailed again.

Ahead at halftime, 37-34, they dominated the second half.

A 14-0 run near the start gave them a 55-38 lead and a 12-2 run midway through the half increased their lead to 67-44, whereupon the Bruin student section took to taunting the beleaguered visitors.

"N-I-T, N-I-T," they chanted.

Soon, another year had passed without a Cougar victory in Los Angeles.

Bruin Notes

Washington State Coach Kelvin Sampson, on UCLA's Don MacLean: "He's probably not going to win a lot of popularity contests, but he's going to win a lot of shooting contests. The kid can really shoot and has a knack for getting to the (foul) line. Offensively, as a weapon, he's the toughest player we've played against this year."

With Sunday's regular-season finale against Washington still to play, UCLA's Pacific 10 Conference record in three seasons under Coach Jim Harrick is 34-19. In their first three seasons under former coach Walt Hazzard, the Bruins were 35-19 in conference play.

In a poll of West Coast media conducted by the Eugene Register-Guard, Oregon's Terrell Brandon was voted the Pac-10's most valuable player. Joining the junior point guard on the newspaper's unofficial all-conference team were wingmen Harold Miner of USC and MacLean and postmen Adam Keefe of Stanford and Brian Williams of Arizona.

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