CORVALLIS, Ore. -- On a day when UCLA could have gained some ground in the Pac-12 Conference race, the Bruins instead fell flat on the defensive end in an 87-84 loss to Oregon State on Thursday night at Gill Coliseum.
UCLA (10-8, 3-3) gave up 80 points for only the third time this season and failed to capitalize on losses earlier Thursday by Stanford (15-4, 5-2) and Washington (11-7, 4-2), two of the four teams that were ahead of UCLA in the conference race at the start of the day.
Instead the Bruins dropped from a tie for fifth place into seventh place in the conference race and their title hopes are fading fast after they had gotten a glimpse of hope with a three-game win streak before Thursday.
Oregon State (11-7, 2-5) ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 9-2 at home while UCLA dropped to 1-3 in road games.
"It makes it hurt a little more," guard Jerime Anderson said. "I think this really could have helped us and given us a little momentum but this loss is on us. We did the things that put us in the position to win the game, but we had too many turnovers and too many defensive breakdowns."
Five observations from the game:
1UCLA's defense was not up to par
The Bruins allowed Oregon State to shoot 58 percent for the game, with the Beavers' guards continually getting penetration and the post players getting easy, point-blank layups.
"Our whole problem tonight was defensively we couldn’t get stops," coach Ben Howland said. "We just didn’t do the job on the defensive end of the floor and after having three good defensive efforts in a row, it’s disappointing and we have to bounce back."
UCLA had struggled defensively early this season, but appeared to have turned a corner by holding its past three opponents to 36, 48 and 36 percent.
The Bruins played man-to-man for most of Thursday, but switching to zone didn't help much. Howland called for the zone four times and Oregon State scored on three of those possessions, twice on 3-pointers.
"When we went to the zone, they scored three of the four times so we went away from it," Lazeric Jones said.
2UCLA really got hurt in the post
Oregon State is a guard-dominant team with Jared Cunningham and Ahmad Starks the two leading scorers this season, but power forward Devon Collier and center Angus Brandt combined for 33 points on 14-for-21 shooting.
They were getting dunks, layups, making short jump shots and tough shots from all around the basket and were a big reason why Oregon State was able to shoot such a high percentage.
"They got a lot of baskets right around the rim," Jones said. "Their guards made a lot of good shots. They made some tough shots, but a lot came right under the rim. Hook shots, layups, stuff defensively we have to stop."
Forward David Wear said the defensive game plan was centered on stopping Cunningham and Starks and the Oregon State post surprised the Bruins off guard a little bit.
"We got caught off guard because we were focusing mainly on Cunningham and their guards," Wear said. "The posts were kind of sneaking under us and establishing deep position and getting us in trouble that way. We gave up way too many easy buckets."
3The tempo threw UCLA off rhythm
Oregon State plays a high-pressure defense and tries to speed up the game ,and while the Bruins dealt with it well for the most part, they lost their cool for a key stretch that changed the game.
With the score tied at 51-51 and 13:15 remaining, the Bruins let themselves get caught up in a run-and-gun, street ball type of game and had turnovers on three consecutive possessions. The Beavers turned it into a 17-5 run and led, 66-55, with 10:04 to play. UCLA never regained the lead.
"They hurt us by speeding us up," Howland said. "We got sped up. Instead of attacking the basket, we’re pulling up for a three. We made some mistakes like that when we were going faster than we were used to playing. That’s what that defense does, that pressure. We let the pressure get to us a little bit."
4The Bruins failed to take advantage of Oregon State mistakes
Statistically the game was pretty even across the board with the exception of points off of turnovers. Oregon State had 20 points off of 13 UCLA turnovers, the Bruins had five points off of 12 Oregon State turnovers.
"They did what they were supposed to do," Jones said. "When people turn the ball over you have to capitalize on it."
Anderson credited the Oregon State defense with creating the easy baskets because with the half-court pressure, players are in position to transition when they force turnovers.
"Usually when you're in a zone and you create turnovers, it creates good opportunities on the break and that's what they had tonight," Anderson said.
5The UCLA offense looked good
It's not often UCLA scores 80 points and it's even more rare when the Bruins score 80 points and lose. It happened only one time last season in a loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the Preseason NIT.
Jones had 17 points, Travis and David Wear had 16 points each, Jerime Anderson had 11 points and Joshua Smith had 10 and the Bruins shot 57.6 percent from the field with 21 assists.
"We shot 57 percent for the game and lost," Howland said. "That doesn’t happen very often when you shoot that high a percentage and lose. Shooting 57 percent, you expect to have a good chance to win."