CORVALLIS, Ore. - Roberto Nelson scored a career-high 36 points but Oregon State could not withstand the resiliency of Coppin State in a 78-73 loss Sunday night at Gill Coliseum in the Beavers' season opener.
Trailing 36-26 at halftime, the Beavers (0-1) rallied in the second half and got as close as 62-61 when Nelson made a layup. But Coppin State (1-1) extended the lead back to eight over the next 2:28 and made free throws down the stretch to pull off the upset.
"It was a game plan non-execution," Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson said. "We knew they were going to play zone and we knew zone was going to be tough for us this year, especially without Devon (Collier) and Eric (Moreland). If anything, it's the execution of the game plan, which falls straight in my lap."
Senior Angus Brandt made his highly-anticipated return to the floor after a season-ending knee injury last year at the 2K Sports Classic in New York. Along with his leadership, Brandt contributed a stat line of 13 points and seven rebounds, with 11 of the points coming in the second half.
On top of his career night scoring the ball on 12-of-26 shooting, Nelson added four rebounds, three assists and two steals. His previous career best was 34 points in two games, most recently last season against Chicago State.
"He was impressive and we needed every single minute he was out there," Robinson said. "I didn't even get to give him a rest in the second half. That's what he can do, that's what he is capable of doing."
Sophomore Victor Robbins scored a career-best 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in his first start as Beaver. Freshmen Malcolm Duvivier and Hallice Cooke made their Oregon State debuts, along with sophomore Daniel Gomis who missed the past two seasons with a leg injury.
Sterling Smith led Coppin State with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Arnold Fripp added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Eagles.
Olaf Schaftenaar gave fans something to cheer about with two huge three-pointers to keep the Beavers alive midway through the second half. He finished with six points and six rebounds.
Oregon State returns to the floor Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Portland at Gill Coliseum.