Jan. 7, 2000
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - Coming off yet another thrilling finish, 20th-ranked UCLA may face the same fate if history repeats itself Saturday afternoon when the Bruins try to beat Pac-10 Conference foe Washington State for the 14th straight time.
The Bruins (8-3, 0-1 Pac-10) began their trip with a 63-62 defeat on Thursday against Washington after officials ruled that Jason Kapono's toes were on the 3-point line as he hit a jumper at the buzzer.
Four of UCLA's last five games have been decided by two points or less, with the other going to overtime.
Kapono's layup with one second left gave the Bruins a 55-53 victory over Purdue on Dec. 30, just two days after they escaped with a 68-66 win over Pepperdine when the Waves' Craig Lewis follow shot at the buzzer was waved off.
Those contests followed a wild week at the Pearl Harbor Classic, where UCLA suffered a 55-54 loss to Colorado State before needing overtime to beat Central Florida in the consolation game, 103-98.
Close endings seem to be expected lately when the Bruins travel to Pullman. They have come away victorious in six straight trips there, but the last four have been decided by a combined 12 points.
UCLA pulled out a 69-66 win at Washington State last season, a year after needing a 3-pointer by Kris Johnson with less than a second left to escape with a 78-75 victory. The Cougars endured an 87-86 home loss to the Bruins in 1997 and lost to them in overtime the year before, 78-73.
Those triumphs are part of a 13-game winning streak in this series by UCLA, which has not lost to Washington State since 1993.
Halting that slide may be especially tough this season, considering the Cougars (5-5, 0-1) have lost three of their last four games and are battling health problems.
They opened conference play on Thursday and were blown out by USC at Spokane Arena, 83-61. Washington State was playing with just nine players due to injury and illness.
Even leading scorer Chris Crosby, who averages 16.6 points per game, suffered an ankle injury during Thursday's loss but managed to come back and score 13 points.
Crosby, a 6-8 senior forward, may be matched up against Kapono, who seems to be emerging as a star for the Bruins.
The freshman sensation has averaged 17.0 points over the last four games and recorded his first double-double against Purdue with 13 points and 11 boards.
Thrust into the starting lineup for JaRon Rush, Kapono has taken over the team lead in scoring at 14.2 ppg.