WSU men’s basketball loses fourth straight game

Cougars fall to UCLA 87-67, Franks leads way for team with 21 points



Junior guard Carter Skaggs goes in for the layup during the first half of the game against the Bruins on Jan. 30 at Beasley Coliseum.

SIGMUND SEROKA, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball fell to UCLA (11-9, 4-3) 87-67 Wednesday night in Beasley Coliseum leading to its fourth consecutive conference loss.

The contest started with freshman forward CJ Elleby stealing the tip and throwing down a dunk to give the Cougars the first two points of the game in only the first two seconds of play.

UCLA struggled to recover after Elleby’s dunk for the first four minutes. The Bruins play consisted of fouls, turnovers and missed shots resulting in no points until the 16 minute mark.

UCLA managed to finally take the lead away from the Cougars with 14 minutes left in the first half. However, this quickly changed as WSU started a 10-4 run to take the 20-16 lead halfway through the first.

After this run, the Cougars were in a scoring drought ultimately giving up the lead to the Bruins. This would be the Bruins’ second lead of the game on an 8-0 run that would come to an end after a three pointer from junior point guard Ahmed Ali.

Head Coach Ernie Kent said his team had to play differently to match well with UCLA.

“In the beginning of the game we changed our defense a lot,” Kent said. “We wanted to match their size and try to appear bigger on the floor at times.”

The Bruins would manage to hold their lead for the last eight minutes of the first half. Both teams caught fire the last two minutes of the half, shooting 4-4 from the field, leading to a 44-37 score.

At half time the leading scorer for the Cougars was senior forward Robert Franks with 15 points, shooting 75 percent from the field. UCLA’s size affected WSU as the Bruins out rebounded the Cougars 17 to 11.

Starting the second half, the Cougars began to build a slow comeback as they took advantage of Bruins turnovers and capitalized on fast break opportunities. Elleby helped lead this comeback by draining two threes and a dunk.

UCLA did not let the lead go easy as they managed to drain three pointers on their next three possessions. The Bruins also stepped up on defense forcing a two and a half minute Cougar scoring drought.

After the first seven minutes, UCLA caught fire and used their momentum to build a 62-49 lead. The Bruins did not let down as they continued to expand their largest lead of the game on a 13-2 run.

UCLA landed eight out of nine shots through the first 10 minutes of the second half while WSU struggled to make any sort of presence as they only scored 18 points in the first ten minutes of the half.

While UCLA kept the pedal down, WSU continued their scoring drought while also committing five turnovers in five minutes. The drought would be ended by none other than Franks who made his first two free throws of the game.

With seven minutes left, UCLA expanded their lead to 21 points. Meanwhile, the Cougars continued to beat themselves up with more turnovers and little communication, resulting in a 20 point loss.

Franks was clearly frustrated with the teams offensive performance in the second half, but managed to demonstrate his maturity as a veteran.

“Its really difficult and frustrating,” Franks said. “But you have to maintain your anger and keep your cool when you’re out there on the court.”

UCLA had five members on their roster with double digit points by the end of regulation. Leading the way was junior guard Prince Ali with 18 points and five rebounds.

Although the Cougars’ scoring was abysmal throughout the second half, Franks finished with 21 points and five rebounds followed by Elleby with 15 points and eight assists.

The Cougars will be back in Beasley on Saturday to face USC in hopes of picking up their second win. Tip off will be at 4 p.m. and can be viewed on the Pac-12 Networks.