Powell's 24 leads UCLA past Long Beach State 77-63
LOS ANGELES (AP) All UCLA coach Steve Alford wanted for his 50th birthday was a win.
It was stressful at times, but Norman Powell made sure the Bruins gave their coach what he desired.
Powell scored 24 points to lead all five starters in double figures and UCLA beat Long Beach State 77-63 on Sunday night to celebrate Alford's birthday with a victory.
''I definitely was thinking during pregame `Man, what if we lost on his birthday','' Powell said. ''I know he's happy.''
Powell hit four of the Bruins' eight three pointers and finished 8 of 14 from the field.
The senior guard is averaging 21.2 points per game on the young season.
''I spent all offseason working on my shot and I'm just feeling comfortable and confident out there,'' he said. ''My teammates did a great job finding me tonight and I was able to fuel the offense.''
Bryce Alford had 17 points and seven assists, Isaac Hamilton scored 12 points and Kevon Looney and Tony Parker each had 10 to help UCLA win its fourth straight to open the season.
UCLA won its first three games in blowout fashion but had to hold on tight against the 49ers (2-3). The Bruins led just 66-61 with 3 minutes remaining but closed on an 11-2 run to secure the victory.
''We needed this,'' the elder Alford said. ''We needed to see what happens when somebody punches you..I thought it took us a while to respond but we kept fighting.''
Mike Caffey scored 19 points, all in the second half, and David Samuels had 11 for Long Beach State.
The 49ers outshot UCLA 43-40 percent and outrebounded the Bruins 39-38. But Long Beach State also committed 19 turnovers and UCLA scored 25 points off of those turnovers.
''I didn't think we were very tough,'' Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said. ''We got a lot of balls knocked away, a lot of soft passes. A lot of times we were just soft with the ball.''
UCLA led 42-31 at halftime largely on the strength of a 21-3 run midway through the first half, but Caffey scored nine straight points out of the break to cut UCLA's lead to 46-40.
Alford halted the momentum with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle with a defender in his face. He found Powell in the corner for another 3-pointer on the next possession and Parker added a tip-in to complete an 8-0 run that put the Bruins back in front by double-digits.
Long Beach State again battled back and cut UCLA's lead to 66-61 with 3 minutes remaining, but Looney put down a dunk to retake some of the momentum for the Bruins. Alford followed with a jumper and Parker put home another tip-in, and the 49ers didn't have enough time to muster another rally.
''After the game (coach) told us we better have won it,'' Bryce Alford said. ''It was fun to be able to play on his birthday and go out and get the win.''
Long Beach State: Monson gave Alford a cane before the game as a birthday present. The two coaches are longtime friends.Monson is one win away from tying Jerry Tarkanian for most career wins in program history.
UCLA: The Bruins had 15 steals in the game, including six by Powell and three by Looney. Looney finished with 11 rebounds to record his third straight double-double. He finished one rebound away in the game he didn't get a double-double.
Long Beach State: Plays Western Michigan on Thursday in the Wooden Legacy tournament in Fullerton, Calif.
UCLA: Plays Oklahoma on Wednesday in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Nassau, Bahamas.