This post was updated Feb. 14 at 12:22 a.m.
Cody Riley finished regulation with eight points in 17 minutes.
In overtime alone, however, the redshirt sophomore forward put up 11 points that lifted the Bruins to a comeback victory.
UCLA men’s basketball (14-11, 7-5 Pac-12) came back from a 12-point deficit to force overtime against Washington State (14-11, 5-7) on Thursday, emerging with an 86-83 overtime victory. Riley was the Bruins’ second-leading scorer with 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting, and he also chipped in a block that went sailing into the stands late in the extra period.
Riley said his first basket in overtime fueled him to keep attacking in the paint, and his ability to box out and secure boards aided in his offensive effort as well.
“Once I got a draw on the post and saw it go in, you know, it gave me a lot of confidence,” Riley said. “My teammates got me the ball in the right position, and I just rebounded aggressively and the ball went in.”
Riley scored UCLA’s first seven points in overtime, working his way down low in the post three possessions in a row en route to his largest scoring output in more than two months.
“That’s the definition of beast mode,” said coach Mick Cronin. “I think (Riley’s) a guy who (for) his whole life, he scored because of his size, and now he has to score with technique. … The way he was doing it, you could see he was on a mission.”
Junior guard Chris Smith led the Bruins with 23 points and 13 rebounds, and he went a perfect 4-of-4 from the line in overtime, but said he knew things had to run through Riley down the stretch.
“I was loving it, bro, I was loving it – that’s my dog,” Smith said. “We got in the huddle and I was like, ‘Man, play defense and feed Cody.’ We did those two things and we got the dub.”
The Bruins went on a 15-4 run in just over four minutes to make it a one-point game midway through the second half, but they missed several chances to take the lead.
Redshirt freshman guard Tyger Campbell missed back-to-back free throws, sophomore guard David Singleton missed a wide-open mid-range jumper and redshirt sophomore forward/center Jalen Hill’s post hook hit front iron.
But after almost two straight minutes trailing by one, Singleton drilled a deep 3-pointer to put his team on top. That triple by Singleton was the first of eight lead changes or ties in the final 7:14 of regulation, but the Cougars pulled back ahead by four with 3:26 left on the clock.
Smith had a chance to tie the game with 57 seconds left in regulation, but he missed the layup in traffic.
Forty seconds later, he knotted things up at 69 and sent the game to overtime.
UCLA and Washington State also went to overtime when they played back on Jan. 4 in Pullman, but that game went the Cougars’ way after they came back from down 11 to pull out a home win.
Freshman guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. – who scored just five points in his first appearance against Washington State – said this UCLA team is a vastly different squad than the one that played in Pullman six weeks earlier.
“We’re making steps forward, we’ve become a really good team and become a team that other teams are scared to play,” Jaquez said. “We knew going into overtime that we didn’t want a repeat of what happened last time, so we went out there and played as hard as we could and get the W.”
And in order for UCLA to return the favor in round two, it had to start hitting 3s.
The Bruins ended the first half 1-of-13 from deep, but behind Jaquez’s three second-half triples, they ended the second frame 6-of-11 from 3. And while Washington State hit 11 3s in the game, the UCLA offense was able to keep pace and win in a shootout for the first time all year.
Entering Thursday, the Bruins were 0-11 when they allowed more than 70 points. Although Cronin’s defense allowed more than 80 points for the third time in its last six games, UCLA countered by scoring its most points since Dec. 1.
“If you’re not going to stop them, you got to answer them,” Cronin said.
UCLA will take Friday off before hosting Washington at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night, having now won six of its last eight games.