UCLA outpaced by Oregon State
UCLA entered Corvallis on Thursday night in the midst of a three-game winning streak. They were on the heels of their first road win of the season –Sunday at USC. However, the Bruins have yet to beat a Division I opponent outside of Southern California.
They had as good a chance as any against an Oregon State team that had lost five of their first six Pac-12 games this season. The Bruins also had history in their favor, as winners of 13 in a row against the Beavers.
These Beavers aren’t the Beavers of the past. This group is fast, they can score, and played the game at their tempo to defeat UCLA 87-84 on Thursday night at Gill Coliseum.
“This is the most talented Oregon State team that we’ve played against in my nine years at UCLA. They’re 2-5. They could easily be 4-3 in the league right now,” said UCLA head coach Ben Howland to FOX Sports Radio.
Ahmad Starks gave the Beavers (12-7, 2-5 Pac-12) a 48-47 lead with 15:42 left in the second half when he knocked down a jumper from the top of the key and then the bottom fell out for UCLA (10-8, 3-3 Pac-12). The Starks basket prompted Howland to call a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the Bruins were forced to burn another because they couldn’t inbound the basketball.
They called two timeouts without a second running off of the clock.
Once they were able to get the ball inbounded, Joshua Smith was called for an offensive foul trying to establish post position.
All of a sudden, the Bruins got sped up and turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions. Smith picked up his third personal foul hip checking Beavers forward Eric Moreland on a fast break. After a Norman Powell turnover, Starks zipped a one-hand pass three-quarters court to his backcourt mate Jared Cunningham who was all alone on a run out.
In just over five minutes of play, the Beavers had assembled an 18-7 run. With 11:36 left in the game, Howland was forced to burn his final timeout with the Bruins trailing 62-54.
“We had three turnovers in a row that led to easy baskets and that’s where the game got away from us and we had a hard time fighting back from that point,” said Howland.
The Beavers made nine of their first 13 shots in the second half after shooting 59.3% in the first half.
You knew things were getting out of hand when 280-pound Joe Burton drove the lane and wrapped a pass around Smith to Devon Collier for a layup for two of his 20 points on the night to give the Beavers a 70-59 lead.
Defensively, the effort that had been so helpful for the Bruins in recent games wasn’t packed up, bottled, and taken with them to Corvallis.
“This is a tough loss for us because our defense had been playing a lot better the last three games going into tonight,” said Howland. “When you shoot 57% you expect to have a good chance to win most of those games and our defense let us down. We got sped up. “
Offensively, Howland got the balance that he so desires, with five players in double figures. The Bruins shot 57.6% from the field. Turnovers hurt them. A team that committed fewer turnovers than any other team in conference, at just over 10 a game, turned the ball over 13 times on Thursday night, leading to 20 Oregon State points.
“They played well and we did not understand tempo at times. We had 13 turnovers. It felt like we had more than 13,” said Howland.
The Bruins did a good job of containing the conference’s leading scorer, Cunningham, in the first half. He was limited to just five points on two of seven shooting in the first 20 minutes.
Cunningham did it with his defense in the second half. He had three steals in less than two minutes in the second half that contributed to the Beavers big run. Cunningham finished with a game-high 21 points for the Beavers, who shot 58% in the game.
UCLA trailed 39-38 at halftime. They are now 0-7 on the season when trailing at halftime and 0-6 when allowing opponents to shoot over 50% from the field.
The Bruins will try to get a split of the Oregon trip on Saturday when they take on Oregon (14-5, 5-2 Pac-12) in Eugene at 1pm on Fox Sports West. The Ducks were a 65-62 winner over USC on Thursday.