CORVALLIS, Ore. -- UCLA may not be nearly as dramatic as the 1980 Cleveland Browns, otherwise known as the Kardiac Kids for their penchant for having games decided in the final moments.
But the Bruins are steadily getting there, game by game.
Just ask coach Ben Howland, who joked that he nearly had a heart attack late in UCLA’s 62-52 victory over Oregon State at Gill Coliseum.
The Bruins followed up Thursday’s disheartening overtime loss at Oregon with a win that was closer than it needed to be.
“The worst part is that we took our last timeout to say ‘Don’t foul. Whatever you do, up 14, don’t foul,’ ” Howland said.
After UCLA (10-11, 5-4 Pacific 10 Conference) held a 14-point lead with a minute and a half left, Oregon State (9-12, 3-6) cut the deficit to six in a blink of an eye.
A pair of Tyler Honeycutt free throws and a Reeves Nelson dunk sealed the deal, though.
But Howland was visibly fatigued.
Before that, the Bruins had committed 20 turnovers trying to infiltrate the Beavers’ suffocating 1-3-1 zone defense. Here's a video of Howland speaking on the subject:
UCLA overcame all that and for once, didn’t hurt itself at the line (12 for 15 on free throws).
The Bruins shot a blistering 66 percent from the field (75 percent in the second half).
“Generally, if you’re going to be really competitive, you’re going to win your home games and split on the road,” Howland said. “It’s big.”
“We came out with a lot of heart and a lot of passion,” said Nelson, who recorded his first-career double-double (14 points and 12 rebounds).
UCLA was up six at the half, but Oregon State took a two-point lead five minutes into the second half. Senior forward Nikola Dragovic nailed a jumper two minutes later to put the Bruins up for good.
“To lose a disappointing game in overtime, where I thought we had a chance to win, and come in here and beat a team that just beat USC -- a team that we have great respect for -- was really, really a great win,” Howland said.