PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) Jaylen Wells matched a career high with 27 points, including 11 in the final 7 1/2 minutes as No. 19 Washington State beat UCLA 77-65 on Saturday.

The Cougars (23-7, 14-5) rallied from 13 points down - their second double-digit comeback in three days - to stay a half-game behind first-place Arizona in the Pac-12 race. They reached 23 wins for the first time since 2007, and their 14th victory in conference play equaled a school record.

Washington State still has a chance to win the Pac-12 regular-season title, but needs No. 6 Arizona to lose at least one of its final two games on the road next week.

“Again our guys showed a will to win,” Cougars coach Kyle Smith said. “And (they) made some tough shots. It wasn’t ideal basketball, but Jaylen hit a big 3, a turnaround and free throws.”

With 7:23 left, UCLA guard Will McClendon was called for a flagrant-2 foul and ejected for hitting Washington State's Isaac Jones below the waist. The ejection sent Bruins coach Mick Cronin into a tizzy and fired up both the Cougars and the Beasley Coliseum crowd.

Jones missed both free throws after the flagrant foul, but Wells made a 3-pointer – his third of the game – to tie the score and start an 8-0 run by the Cougars.

Washington State ended the game on a 22-7 spurt.

“I can’t talk on that play,” Cronin said of McClendon’s flagrant foul. “We got a 13-point lead and the same thing happened (in our loss) at Arizona. Can’t run your offense. Can’t set a pick-and-roll. Foul every play, but every foul is on us.”

Washington State attempted 22 more free throws than UCLA and outrebounded the Bruins 39-24.

Myles Rice had 18 points for the Cougars, who have their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 since February 2008.

Wells, a 6-foot-8 junior, was 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. He also scored 27 points in a win at No. 4 Arizona in February.

“He’s just getting better and better. He’s confident,” Smith said.

Dylan Andrews led UCLA (14-15, 9-9) with 21 points. Lazar Stefanovic had 11 points and eight rebounds.

The Bruins quickly erased a 40-32 halftime deficit and controlled a big chunk of the second half with strong post play. Adem Bona and Aday Mara combined for 12 points to give UCLA a 56-53 advantage, but the Bruins made just two shots over the final nine minutes.

After a second straight sluggish start at home, Washington State outscored UCLA 34-13 over the final 13 minutes of the first half.


UCLA: A frustrating season continues. The Bruins controlled the first part of both halves but ran into foul trouble and couldn’t get enough stops as they lost their fourth straight game.

Washington State: The Cougars continued their recent shaky but resilient play. They’ve lacked offensive rhythm and struggled to hit timely free throws - especially Jones, who was 5 of 10 from the line. But they made buckets when it counted.


UCLA: Hosts No. 6 Arizona on Thursday.

Washington State: Hosts rival Washington on Thursday.


Get poll alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here


AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

Copyright 2024 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.