The No. 2 Bruins put on an offensive and defensive clinic in the second half, holding off No.13 Washington State 53-45 in front of 11,618 fans to win the Pac-10 title outright for the second straight season, and keep the Cougars without a conference crown since 1941. Next on UCLA’s agenda is Saturday’s trip to Washington, where the stakes are securing the West Region’s No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which tips off in less than two weeks. PULLMAN, Wash. – The energy on the Palouse was unrivaled, with the locals talking about the biggest game in at least two decades, and some calling it the biggest in Washington State history. It made for a memorable Thursday night at Friel Court, one filled with chanting students, tension and the Pacific-10 Conference’s two best men’s basketball teams. Bruins wing Josh Shipp scored 12 points and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 10. Washington State was led by Kyle Weaver’s 14 points, but leading scorer Derrick Low was nearly shut out. He was averaging 13.9 points per game, but was held to two points. With Afflalo doing much of the defending, Low was 1-of-8 from the field, with the lone basket coming on a 12-foot bank shot from straight on. “UCLA did not take possessions off,” Cougars coach Tony Bennett said. “A lot of teams in our league, us included, will take possessions off and play for the big run, or the big swing.” UCLA trailed 23-22 at the half, as the Cougars matched West Virginia in holding the Bruins to their lowest first-half scoring output. But UCLA started the second half quickly to take control. Josh Shipp navigated traffic for a lay-in to begin a 9-0 UCLA spurt to take a 31-23 lead. UCLA also tightened its defense as Washington State missed its first six shots of the half. The Bruins made 12 of their first 15 shots in the second half, dissecting Washington State’s defense with sharp feeds to the low post as Alfred Aboya and Mbah a Moute began scoring easy baskets. Of UCLA’s first 12 baskets of the second half, nine were lay-ins or dunks. While the Cougars struggled to get solid looks at the basket, the Bruins were surprisingly efficient in building a 47-37 lead with nine minutes to play. “We were running, and I thought Darren did a good job of hitting the guys on the slips,” Howland said. “They were really overextending, so sensitive to Arron in particular, with him coming off of jump shots, that Darren did a great job of reading that.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I’m very happy,” said junior guard Arron Afflalo, who led the Bruins with 14 points. “This is another year we establish UCLA as a premier team. The whole thing is to be consistent with that, and get it back to the golden days.” The Bruins (26-3, 15-2) now own 29 conference titles, and are the top seed in next week’s Pac-10 tournament. Washington State (23-6, 12-5) claimed second place in the league, matching its best finish in Pac-10 play. “We’re really, really happy to get this win, which gives us sole possession of the regular-season Pac-10 championship, which is an important goal for us,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “I think Washington State is just outstanding. This is a great gut check.” One thing missing from this postgame celebration was a Gatorade shower for Howland. Last season he was drenched upon entering the locker room at Stanford after the Bruins clinched the title outright, but this time he met the media bone-dry. “I think he’s used to this by now,” said UCLA point guard Darren Collison, an Etiwanda graduate. “He’s real focused on winning a national title. We’re that good. Even though we appreciate that we won the Pac-10 championship, we still want to go and look forward.”
Jonathan Walters 1 Stoke have rejected a bid from Norwich City for Jonathan Walters.The versatile forward has a year left on his contract at the Britannia Stadium and talks over a new deal have not progressed.That prompted the Canaries to launch a £1.5million move for the 31-year-old ahead of the two teams’ clash at Carrow Road on Saturday.But that offer was rejected out of hand by Stoke, with Mark Hughes viewing the Republic of Ireland international as a key member of his squad.Hughes has made a host of new signings this summer but Walters remains crucial to his plans.The former Ipswich man has played in both of the Potters’ Premier League games this season and Norwich’s interest could see contract talks with Walters stepped up.