OSU a little too close for comfort


Blair Angulo / Daily Bruin

CORVALLIS, Ore. “”mdash; Fans started filing out of Gill Coliseum on Saturday with UCLA leading big.

Rain was falling outside, so their choice to wander into those conditions said something about what kind of second half UCLA was having.

Freshman forward Reeves Nelson had just slammed home a dunk off a flashy assist from sophomore guard Malcolm Lee to put the Bruins ahead 14 points with under two minutes remaining.

Winning in such a way would have been too easy for this young UCLA squad, though.

The large number of fans that left would have never forgiven themselves had UCLA succumbed to Oregon State’s last-minute rally.

The Beavers trimmed the Bruins’ advantage to six with half a minute remaining, but freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt sank two clutch free throws to dash Oregon State’s hopes of a miraculous comeback. UCLA went on to defeat the Beavers 62-52 in front of 8,067 Saturday to earn a weekend split in Oregon.

“Lo and behold, I almost had a heart attack,” coach Ben Howland said. “I’m just glad we were able to pull that out.”

Fazed and sped up by Oregon State’s pressing 1-3-1 zone defense, UCLA committed 20 turnovers.

“The trap was really good, I don’t know why they took it off,” said Roll, who added 11 points in a game-high 39 minutes. “They were slowing us down. We had a lot of turnovers.”

UCLA valued the ball more as the game wore on and as a result, began to slow down. Players said a halftime adjustment helped.

“The weak part of the zone is in the middle, in the belly,” Lee said. “We just tried to get it in the middle and have the shooters stay in the corners and the slashers drive. That’s when we got dunks.”

Howland decided to give Lee a bigger role in the offense.

“We wanted to get our point guard in the middle and try to get us some catches,” Howland said. “Malcolm did a better job in the second half seeking the ball and attacking. He got more comfortable at it.”

Oregon State, meanwhile, wasn’t all that comfortable facing UCLA’s 2-3 zone. The Beavers turned the ball over 14 times.

“The way it started, you kind of knew it was going to be an ugly game,” Nelson said. “We were going to have to grind it out. I think we accepted that.”

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