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UCLA holds on to dump Washington St. from ranks of unbeaten

Jan 13, 2008 - 12:33 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Kevin Love helped show why UCLA still is the king in the Pac-10 Conference.

The freshman center scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the fifth-ranked Bruins handed No. 4 Washington State its first loss, holding off a long-range rally for an 81-74 victory on Saturday.

Darren Collison scored 18 points and Josh Shipp added 14 for UCLA (16-1, 4-0 Pac-10), which continued its lopsided history against Washington State at Pauley Pavilion, winning for the 51st time in 52 meetings.

"UCLA is the measuring stick of the conference," Washington State coach Tony Bennett said. "We have to go back to making teams earn their baskets. We'll learn from this and we know we have a lot of work to do. UCLA's pressure is so good, they definitely bothered us, but we has shots that didn't go down. They are the best defensive team we've played against."

With two of the Cougars' key players hampered by foul issues in the first half, the Bruins raced to a 24-8 start before settling for a 35-22 halftime advantage.

"UCLA is a great defensive team, they get up into you defensively," Washington State point guard Derrick Low said. "I thought we did better as game went on. Once you dig a hole against a team the caliber as UCLA, it gets tough."

Love scored 11 points in the first half, making four of his first five attempts. He ended up 9-of-12 from the field and blocked two shots.

"Talking about my college career, this was my best game to date," the 6-10 center said. "I had a good game against Cal, but this was by far my best college game."

"Kevin Love scores so well before he gets the ball," Bennett said.

Although Washington State was able to come alive at the end of the first half, it quickly fell back into a deep hole after Love hit a 3-pointer for an 18-point lead just three minutes after intermission.

That ended up being the biggest lead for UCLA, which still led by 13 points with 3:21 remaining before Washington State went crazy from the 3-point arc.

The Cougars (14-1, 2-1), who were off to their best start in 91 years, closed within 77-74 with 16 seconds to play after Daven Harmeling hit a 3-pointer - the seventh consecutive basket from the arc for Washington State.

"Wow! They were making everything," Bruins guard Russell Westbrook said. "We were contesting their shots, they were calling timeouts and we made our free throws at the end."

Love, who finished 7-of-10 on free throws, made two from the line with 13 seconds to play and, after the Cougars missed from the arc, Shipp hit a layup after racing up the court following a rebound.

"That was a great example of why you continue to play until the clock says 0:00," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "As a coach, it was hard to take, but you have to credit Washington State's toughness. They are a good team, and when I talked about them being a Final Four team, I meant it. They did a great job, especially down the stretch."

Plagued by two fouls in the opening 20 minutes, Low scored all 24 of his points in the second half for Washington State. The senior guard finished 6-of-9 on 3-pointers.

"The basket felt big and I started to get open," Low said. "(UCLA) made it hard to get good looks in the first half. I found a way to get open, came off screens hard and I got them to fall."

Held out for most of the second half of Thursday's 69-55 win over Washington because of a hip injury, Collison showed no ill-effects for the Bruins, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and handing out three assists.

Collison's backup, Westbrook had 12 points, four assists and three steals.

Taylor Rochestie scored 13 points for the Cougars, who finished 13-of-21 (62 percent) from the arc.