Shelton fuels Cougars to stunner against UCLA

D.J. SHELTON

PULLMAN — It was a fitting conclusion. A senior dominating on a night when he was honored. Forward D.J. Shelton, who most memorably delivered a thunderous tomahawk slam dunk with less than 9 minutes left to play, finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds to help fuel Washington State to a stunning 73-55 upset victory against UCLA before 3,142 fans Saturday night at Beasley Coliseum.

"It was great," Shelton said after tallying his 12th double-double of the season. "I thank my teammates, all my fans that were able to make it to the game, my coaches, my coaching staff — it was a great experience."

Joining Shelton in the starting lineup was fellow senior Will DiIorio, whose shining moment came when he checked in with 51 seconds to play and the victory already in hand.

"(I) appreciate everyone who made it out, family, friends coaches, teammates, it was great to leave Beasley with a win, especially over UCLA," DiIorio said.

DiIorio scored his only field goal of the game on an assist from DaVonté Lacy with 10 seconds to play. He then jogged back on defense with a smile before receiving a standing ovation from the crowd as he checked out of the game at home for the last time as a Cougar.

"It was great to score," DiIorio said. "DaVonté started dribbling, I thought I'd sneak behind the defense and get a quick bucket. The ovation was great, I'm just happy I was able to be here at WSU my four years and complete it with a win."

WSU (10-20 overall, 3-15 Pac-12) led by eight at halftime, but the Cougars definitely stumbled out of the gate. UCLA (23-8, 12-6) opened the game with a 9-0 run in the first three minutes, prompting a timeout from coach Ken Bone that would turn things around for the Cougars.

The Cougars outscored the Bruins 34-17 the rest of the half and never looked back.

Bone said his team began the game slightly overzealous and in the huddle he told them they would be fine going forward if they calmed down.

"Fortunately, it worked," Bone said.

The defense of the Cougars held UCLA to a season-low 55 points, shutting out freshman Zach LaVine and limiting twin posts Travis and David Wear to a combined six points on 33 percent shooting.

"Everyone stuck to their role, we all played as a team and stopped them as a team," DiIorio said.

FOR THE second-straight time, the Cougars knocked off UCLA at home in the final game of the regular season. They previously had not defeated the Bruins at Beasley since 1993. Shelton felt his team would be underestimated by UCLA, which meant they could capitalize on aggression and energy.

The victory also marked the second straight time this season the Cougars won a conference game when DaVonté Lacy was not the leading scorer. He finished with 9 points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field.

The team received big contributions from freshmen Ike Iroegbu and Que Johnson as each contributed a team-high 14 points off the bench.

Johnson relished that the team produced on offense without relying on Lacy.

"It is nice to know some other guys stepped up when DaVonté wasn't having his greatest game," Bone said. "Que Johnson hit some big shots. Ike Iroegbu I thought had maybe his best overall game even though his was really good against Gonzaga but tonight he was really good."

If there was ever an opportunity for WSU to gain some momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tournament, this was it. UCLA entered the game with the second-best record in the conference and are destined for the NCAA Tournament.

"It means a lot," Johnson said of the win over a premiere opponent, "It means we can play with anybody, especially going into the tournament."

The victory means the Cougars leaped over USC to finish 11th in the Pac-12. They play in the opening round Wednesday of the Pac-12 Tournament at 8:30 p.m. against Stanford (19-11, 10-8) in Las Vegas.

"It's a nice feeling for the seniors to leave Beasley on a good note, knowing the crowd was behind them and supporting them, it's a nice way to head down to the tournament," Bone said.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Shelton's 14 rebounds move him into WSU's single-season top-10 list for rebounds. His 286 rebounds place him 5th on the single-season rebound list.

  • WSU held a 20-12 advantage in points in the paint and a 40-16 advantage in bench points. They also topped the Bruins 6-4 in fast break points.

  • Prior to the game, WR Drew Loftus, LB Dylan Hanser, LB Tana Pritchard, CB Marcellus Pippins, WR Vince Mayle and CB Charleston White of the Cougar football team treated the crowd to a dunk contest. After each player threw down a dunk, fans voted Hanser, Mayle and White into the final round at halftime.

    In the final round, White went up and converted a two-handed slam to win the contest over Hanser. Mayle's three attempts were unsuccessful.

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