Alford, No. 3 UCLA aim to keep rolling vs. Wash. St.
Senior guard Bryce Alford will have a chance to break UCLA’s career record for 3-point field goals on Saturday when the third-ranked Bruins conclude the regular season against Washington State in a Pac-12 Conference game at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
UCLA (27-3, 14-3 Pac-12) has won eight consecutive games since suffering back-to-back losses at the end of January, but the Bruins will likely be without freshman standout TJ Leaf. They are one game behind Arizona and Oregon, who are tied for first in the Pac-12.
Washington State (13-16, 16-11) has lost six of eight. The Cougars had won two in a row before falling to USC on Wednesday.
Alford enters the contest with 315 career 3-point field goals, two shy of the school record held by Jason Kapono (2000-03). Alford made eight 3-pointers in UCLA’s 98-66 victory over Washington on Wednesday.
Leaf, a freshman forward who averages 16.8 points and 7.7 rebounds, sprained an ankle early in the first half against Washington and had to be helped off the floor to the locker room. He did not return.
UCLA coach Steve Alford said the team’s medical staff had ruled out any broken bones. He said Leaf is receiving treatment as well as using crutches and a walking boot to rest the ankle. Leaf’s father told the Los Angeles Times that his son hopes to return for next week’s Pac-12 tournament.
Leaf leads the team in scoring and rebounding. He would be critical in the conference tournament and will be essential to the Bruins’ hopes of winning their first NCAA championship since 1995.
“We’ve obviously got to get him back as soon as we can, but it was just a sprained ankle,” Alford said after the Washington game. “It’s not a bad one, but we’ll have to see what the next 48 hours look like as far as his availability for Saturday.”
The Bruins managed to get by without Leaf against Washington. They shot 52.1 percent from the field, made 14 of 27 from 3-point range, committed only eight turnovers and recorded 23 assists on 38 made baskets.
UCLA leads the nation in scoring, assists and field-goal percentage. The Bruins average 92 points per game.
Washington State is coming off an 87-64 loss to USC. Robert Franks came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points for the Cougars. Josh Hawkinson had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Hawkinson is going into Saturday’s game with 989 career rebounds. He needs three more to tie the school record, held by Steve Puidokas (1974-77).
UCLA rolled to a 95-79 victory over Washington State when the teams met Feb. 1. Leaf had a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds for the Bruins, who shot 57.6 percent despite making just 3 of 16 from 3-point range.
Ike Iroegbu led Washington State with 20 points in that game while Conor Clifford added 16. Hawkinson had 15 points, nine assists and five rebounds.
The Cougars shot 50.8 percent from the field and made 10 of 21 from long distance, but they couldn’t match UCLA’s firepower.