The first time UCLA played Oregon State this season left not just the memory of a double-overtime loss for the Bruins, but getting outrebounded and generally outmuscled.
UCLA coach Steve Alford made it clear prior to Thursday’s rematch they would need a much different effort, and the Bruins delivered in a 75-68 victory over the Beavers.
With senior center Thomas Welch grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds to go with his 15 points, UCLA (18-8, 9-5 Pac 12), UCLA outrebounded Oregon State, 51-33.
“It felt like (Welch) could get any rebound he wanted,” said UCLA guard Aaron Holiday, who had 17 points and 10 assists.
Alfred Hollins led Oregon State (13-12, 5-8) with 24 points. Stephen Thompson Jr. had 13 points. The Bruins held Beavers’ leading scorer Tres Tinkle to 4-of-7 shooting and 11 points to snap Oregon State’s two-game winning streak.
“We were just really in a fog on the defensive end and on the glass,” said Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle. “Give them credit, they were the tougher team.”
Nine of Welch’s rebounds came on the offensive end.
“I just started going after every ball I could,” Welch said. “That’s really my focus every single night, to attack the glass.”
UCLA remained tied for second in the conference with USC with the win, despite going just 4 of 21 on its 3-point attempts (19 percent) and 23 of 37 from the free-throw line (62 percent).
Free throws had also hurt the Bruins in their loss in Corvallis, where they shot even worse, hitting 19 of 35 free throws (54 percent).
The Beavers trailed by 13 in the first half, but rallied to briefly regain the lead early in the second half. They were down by four with under a minute left, but could not make the big plays down the stretch.
“We got selfish at the end, but not in a bad way,” said Wayne Tinkle. “Maybe instead of trying to shoot over that 7-footer, maybe making that extra pass for a drop off would have been better.”
Oregon State: Will have to finish strong in its last five games to get above the .500 mark in conference play and decent seeding for the conference tournament.
UCLA: After looking strong in wins over Arizona and USC, the Bruins had stumbled in their previous game against Arizona State but regained their form against the Beavers.
WELCH’S NEW LOOK
The center suffered a bashed nose in the Bruins’ loss last month to Oregon State, needed stitches and had been wearing a protective mask since.
Thursday he finally discarded it, and returning to his old look seemed to suit him.
“It’s good to be done with it,” Welch said.
He hit 7 of 12 shots and also had two blocks.
His final line looked notable – five rebounds, four assists and three steals to go along with his 13 points, but Thompson was hardly satisfied with his play.
“I could have played a lot better,” he said. “My offense and defense could have been better and I could have finished stronger at the rim.”
UCLA wants to be a fastbreak team, and although they’ve been inconsistent with it this season, they had it going early. The Bruins had eight fastbreaks in the first half.
“Tonight we showed what we can do,” Holiday said.