Jaime Jaquez Jr. powers No. 9 UCLA in a get-well rout of Washington State

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LOS ANGELES — It was a get-well card to themselves, complete with hearts and smiley faces.

Everyone signed it. Personal touches were everywhere.

Adem Bona flexed in satisfaction as he sat along the baseline Saturday evening, the UCLA freshman center having blocked three shots in less than three minutes. Jaime Jaquez Jr. slapped hands in celebration after sinking three-pointers and snagging rebounds on the way to another double-double.

Finally, there was the literal signature moment, walk-on guard Russell Stong IV lingering on the Pauley Pavilion court to sign an autograph after his first appearance in nearly two months.

The most encouraging sign of all might have been the “We want Russell!” chant that broke out only a few minutes earlier. It meant the Bruins were comfortably on the way to a win over Washington State, putting the doldrums of recent weeks behind them.

Unleashing their most complete effort in more than a month, the ninth-ranked Bruins rolled to a 76-52 win over the Cougars that stretched the nation’s longest home winning streak to 21 games.


“Tremendous team spirit today,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “I was really proud of the guys with their attitude.”

Along the way to maintaining its spot atop the Pac-12 standings, UCLA (19-4, 10-2 Pac-12) conquered its biggest nemesis of recent weeks, avoiding a massive second-half letdown. Sustaining an intense ball pressure, the Bruins kept building their lead while outscoring the Cougars (10-15, 5-9) by 15 points in the second half.

“I thought we played with a lot different attitude, a lot more positive attitude,” Jaquez said after scoring a game-high 24 points and grabbing a career-high 15 rebounds. “Not thinking about anything else and just playing the game, I think that’s what won this game.”

The attitude adjustment came after one unnamed coach ordered players in a group text to bring more positive vibes no matter what happened, playing with all-out effort.


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