PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - Freshman Chanelle Molina could feel the confidence growing as Washington State hung with No. 9 UCLA on Friday night.
Molina scored a career-high 33 points and Washington State upset UCLA 82-73, one of the biggest victories in program history.
“Every defensive stop and every basket we made gave us adrenaline to keep playing,” Molina said. “This is my first 30-point game of my career and it came against a really good team.”
The guard made 13 of 20 shots and added seven assists and five rebounds.
“She’s blessed with so much athleticism and talent,” Washington State coach June Daugherty said. “She’s such a competitor, such a winner.”
Washington State (7-8, 2-2 Pac-12) outscored the Bruins 31-21 in the fourth quarter, sinking 12 of 15 field goals in the final quarter, to win their second game in a row after losing six straight.
The Bruins are the second-highest ranked team that Washington State has ever defeated. It beat No. 8 Maryland in 2014.
The Cougars were missing two of their top three leading scorers because of injuries.
“We go into every single game confident,” said Ivana Kmetovska, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. “The consistency was the key to winning this game tonight.”
Jordin Canada had 19 points and Monique Billings 18 for UCLA (11-3, 2-1). The Bruins had won three straight.
The Bruins were undone by 34 percent shooting, while the Cougars shot 52 percent.
“We got out-focused,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “We got outhustled and all the credit to WSU.”
“The amount of layups that we missed and the free throws we missed speaks to our lack of focus,” Close said, pointing to the Bruins’ 12 of 22 performance from the free throw line and poor shooting.
Close was impressed by Molina, a Hawaii native who is one of the top recruits in WSU history.
“Her decision-making is way beyond her years,” Close said. “She takes the right shots, she’s aggressive.”
Washington State led 25-23 after the first quarter behind 10 points from Molina, who made all five of her shots.
Kennedy Burke’s 3-pointer highlighted an 11-0 run for the Bruins to open the second quarter, as they built a 34-25 lead. Burke, who finished with 16 points, made 7 of 11 from the field.
Pinelopi Pavlopoulou, who finished with 14 points, hit a pair of baskets as Washington State cut UCLA’s lead to 38-34 at halftime.
Molina sank a pair of baskets to put Washington State up 41-40 in the third. But Billings replied with three quick baskets as the Bruins took a 48-46 lead.
Billings’ basket lifted UCLA to a 52-51 lead after three quarters.
Molina made consecutive 3-pointers during a 10-0 run as Washington State took a 61-53 lead with 7:38 left in the game.
Molina had three more baskets as the Cougars ran to a 75-64 lead.
The Bruins had lost only at No. 2 Baylor and No. 5 South Carolina this season.
UCLA dominates the series with a 52-8 record, and had won six in a row against the Cougars. Washington State’s last win was in 2012.
Washington State leading scorer Borislava Hristova and third-leading scorer Louise Brown both missed the game because of injuries.
UCLA: The Bruins are not used to being “the hunted,” Close said, and should learn to expect to see every opponent’s best game. Billings is the current Pac-12 player of the week after averaging 18.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in the first two league games of the season.
Washington State: The Cougars were coming off a stretch of six consecutive road games, with the only win against Oregon on New Year’s Day. Daugherty said her team “showed an enormous amount of poise tonight.”
UCLA won the rebound battle 47-45, and forced Washington State into 21 turnovers. The Bruins made just 5 of 22 from 3-point range.
UCLA: At No. 12 Washington on Sunday.
Washington State: Hosts Southern California on Sunday.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.