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UCLA men’s basketball, Bona best Beavers to open Pac-12 play, snap losing streak

UCLA men’s basketball sophomore forward/center Adem Bona rises for a layup over Cal State Northridge center Dearon Tucker. In Thursday’s game against Oregon State, Bona scored 13 points while adding three blocks. (Brandon Morquecho/Assistant Photo editor)

Men’s basketball


UCLA69
Oregon State62

By Grace Whitaker

Dec. 28, 2023 9:48 p.m.

Coach Mick Cronin said he had concerns about a confidence problem in his team after his team’s recent loss to Maryland. 

The coach added that because it lacked a “go-to guy,” UCLA had dug itself into a four-game losing streak. 

But in the Bruins’ first Pac-12 game of the season, sophomore forward/center Adem Bona – who contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks while staying out of foul trouble – sought to become that guy. 

Snapping a four-game losing streak, UCLA men’s basketball (6-6, 1-0 Pac-12) defeated Oregon State (8-4, 0-1 Pac-12) on Thursday 69-62 in Corvallis in its first Pac-12 game of the season. After a stretch of six games playing 30 minutes or less due to foul trouble, Bona accomplished his performance across 33 minutes while only committing one personal foul. 

Coming out of the locker room down four to start the second half, UCLA responded with an early 3-pointer from freshman guard Sebastian Mack to bring the score to 28-27. 

Another pair of baskets from each team – including another 3 from the Bruins – tied the game for the third time three minutes into the half.

But eventually, it was a second-chance jumper from redshirt sophomore guard Will McClendon that granted UCLA its first lead since the opening minutes of the game. 

The teams traded baskets for three minutes until a defensive stretch – headlined by a block from Bona – gave the Bruins a chance to extend their lead. Freshman forward Berke Buyuktuncel added a second-chance layup in the ensuing possession to stretch the score to 42-38 with 12 minutes to go. 

During the first 11 minutes of the half, UCLA steamrolled onto an 18-5 run to give itself a 10-point advantage over Oregon State. And to add to the success, Beaver head coach Wayne Tinkle procured a technical foul to extend the run further. The subsequent pair of makes from the charity stripe from junior guard Lazar Stefanovic brought the Bruins’ lead to 12 with less than 10 minutes to go.

For the rest of the contest, Oregon State attempted to answer UCLA’s second-half spurt, but remained unsuccessful, falling to the Bruins 69-62.

While the Beavers maintained a lead for nearly the entire first half, the Bruins still remained within reach of their opponent. 

However, UCLA’s shooting trouble-plagued it. Across the initial three and ½ minutes of the first half, the visitors went 1-for-6 on field goals while Oregon State maintained a 3-for-4 clip. The Bruins added a pair of baskets within the next two minutes to knot the score at 7-7. 

As the half continued, Bona led UCLA’s efforts with a made layup and hookshot jumper to bring his individual scoring total to seven. 

The Bruins’ attempts weren’t without blemish, however, as UCLA went scoreless behind the arc until 13 minutes into the contest. Stefanovic’s 3-pointer narrowed the Oregon State lead to four – but it would extend to nine with just under four minutes to go.

Guard/forward Brandon Williams made sure that lead didn’t stay that large. The freshman contributed with a second-chance jumper and 3-pointer to close the first half with UCLA down four before it returned to outscore Oregon State 45-34 in the second.

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Grace Whitaker | Sports senior staff
Whitaker is currently a senior staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
Whitaker is currently a senior staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
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