The second-ranked UCLA Bruins distanced themselves from a disappointing loss to Oregon early this week by rallying against Oregon State.
Lonzo Ball had a career-high 23 points, including four 3-pointers, and the Bruins beat the surprisingly resilient Beavers 76-63 on Friday night.
“The loss was in the past, it’s not going to make or break the season,” Ball said afterward. “You’ve just got to shake it off and move forward.”
T.J. Leaf added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Aaron Holiday had 14 points for the Bruins (14-2, 1-1 Pac-12), who led by as many as 15 points late in the game.
Stephen Thompson Jr. had a career-high 25 points for the Beavers (4-11, 0-2).
Trailing 34-26 at halftime, the Beavers pulled into a tie at 38 on Thompson’s 3-pointer. While the Bruins never surrendered the lead, Oregon State kept it close, pulling within 44-43 on Kendal Manuel’s 3-pointer with 12:52 left.
Ball and Holiday hit consecutive 3s to give UCLA a 53-45 lead midway through the half. Ball made another 3 to extend the lead to 64-50 with 6:12 left and Oregon State could no longer keep up.
“The last two days we just talked about growing and trusting each other defensively. We’ve got a lot of trust on the offensive end, so it’s about growing and developing that trust defensively, and I thought we took a good positive stride there tonight,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said.
The Bruins were undefeated until Wednesday, when they fell 89-87 to No. 21 Oregon on a last-second 3-pointer by Dillon Brooks. The loss ended UCLA’s 13-game undefeated run to open the season, the team’s best start since 2006-07.
“You give them (Oregon State) credit, we played a game 48 hours ago and the team ran with us and it was in the 80s,” Alford said. “This was going to be a team that milked the clock for 25 seconds. So it’s two different styles. We didn’t handle it well early, I thought we figured it out late and got on a pretty good run there in the second half and did some good things.”
The Beavers were coming off a 70-63 loss to No. 22 Southern California on Wednesday night, their sixth loss in the last seven games.
Oregon State continues to struggle without sophomore forward Tres Tinkle who broke his wrist during a game against Fresno State on Nov. 25. There is no timetable for Tinkle’s return.
Trailing by 11 in the first half, the Beavers showed spark when JaQuori McLaughlin’s 3-pointer and Thompson’s layup cut the margin to 32-26 with 1:30 to go in the half.
Thompson’s jumper and 3-pointer narrowed it to 34-31 after the break for the Beavers. After his 3 tied it at 38, Holiday answered with a 3-pointer to give the lead back to the Bruins.
“Mostly we made progress,” Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle said. “We don’t believe in moral victories, but our guys did a lot of good things. I’m proud of them.”
The two teams split their games last season.
UCLA: The Bruins, who went through the nonconference season without a loss for the first time since 1995, will likely drop a few spots in the rankings next week because of the loss to the Ducks. Bryce Alford had 12 points, after three straight games with at least 20. … Ball’s 3-pointers match his season high.
Oregon State: Last season the Beavers snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion with an 86-82 victory. … Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey was at the game. … The Beavers’ last win over a No. 2-ranked team was in 1989 when they beat Arizona 84-61 at Gill.
UCLA finished the game shooting 44 percent from the field, had a 36-33 rebounding edge and had 21 assists to Oregon State’s nine.
“This is a team that shares it. We’re on the road, again, and we get 21 assists. Not a better shooting night and yet we still get 21 assists,” Alford said. “We only turn the ball over 10 times. You turn the ball over 10-15 times on the road, you’re going to give yourself a pretty good chance of winning.”
UCLA: The Bruins host California next Friday at Pauley.
Oregon State: The Beavers head to Spokane for a game against Washington State next Thursday.