CORVALLIS, Ore. - Roberto Nelson scored a game-high 26 points, but Oregon State could not overcome a strong second-half effort by California, falling 88-83 on Saturday night at Gill Coliseum.
Nelson was a spark plug for the Beavers offensively, going 4-of-8 from downtown and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw stripe. The Santa Barbara, Calif. native also dished out a career-high nine assists on the night.
Angus Brandt was also efficient, tallying 22 points on a 7-of-10 shooting performance. The Australian also added four rebounds to his final stat line.
Eric Moreland posted a double-double for the second consecutive game, adding 14 points and 11 rebounds for Oregon State (9-7, 1-3 Pac-12).
The Beavers led by as many as 14 in the first half, but Cal (12-4, 3-0) was able to narrow the edge to 45-35 going into the intermission. Oregon State's dominant shooting performance was the highlight of the first half, as the Beavers shot an impressive 63 percent (17-of-27) from the field and were lights out from downtown, hitting 7-of-8 from three-point range in the opening frame.
The second half was not nearly as kind to the Beavers as they only shot 37 percent from the field and turned the ball over eight times. Cal was able to outscore Oregon State 14-4 off turnovers, which helped the Golden Bears keep the Beavers in check for most of the final frame.
“We made life easy for them in a couple of ways," Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson said. "All season long we have said that we have to stick to our game plan. In the first half, we did a really good job of doing that. In the second half, I don’t know if it was nerves or if it was panic, but it got away from us and I couldn’t get them back on track."
Cal had five players score in double digits, led by Justin Cobbs who finished the night with 20 points, all in the second half, and nine assists. Tyrone Wallace also contributed on both sides of the ball, posting 17 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Golden Bears' balanced attack.
The Beavers came out firing to start the contest, leading 8-5 after a pair of three's from Hallice Cooke and Brandt at the 16:55 mark. The Beavers saw 4-of-5 three point shots fall in the first five minutes of the contest, providing Oregon State with a 14-9 lead.
With just under nine minutes to play in the first stanza, Daniel Gomis posted up his defender and dropped in a layup to give the Beavers a 24-17 edge. After a stop on the defensive end, Nelson sped down floor and laid the ball in, brining Oregon State a nine-point advantage.
Nelson dialed it up from three at 5:52 in the first half, pushing the Beavers ahead by 10, 31-21. On the next trip down the floor, the senior did it again; nailing his third triple of the night at the 5:04 mark, getting the crowd of 5,125 on their feet and extending the Oregon State lead to 14.
Langston Morris-Walker joined the party from behind the arc, hitting one of his own at 2:23, pushing the Beavers' lead to 14, 39-25.
Oregon State's physicality inside paid off in the first 20 minutes of play as the Beavers outrebounded the Golden Bears 19-12 in the opening period.
Cal entered the second half on a mission, quickly chipping away at the Oregon State lead behind a 10-3 run and bringing the game to within three, 48-45 at the 16:29 mark.
The Golden Bears would take the lead, 53-50 at 14:10 after grabbing an offensive rebound off of a missed free throw and getting a layup to fall. Their lead would not last long, after two free throws from Nelson and Cooke drilled a three-ball at the 13:24 mark to give the Beavers a four-point cushion.
Cal reclaimed the lead, 60-59, with 11:07 remaining in the contest after Cobbs got a layup to fall. The Bears were able to extend their advantage to nine, 70-61, behind a 10-0 run with 8:11 on the clock.
Oregon State continued battling, as Brandt cut the Cal lead to 77-70 after hitting a shallow hook shot with only 2:50 remaining in the contest. Brandt would convert on two consecutive buckets for the Beavers, to cut the advantage to seven once again.
The Beavers were able to narrow Cal's lead to six with 34 seconds to play, but the Bears would hold on late in the game to put away Oregon State.
At halftime, Oregon State legend Gary Payton was honored for his recent induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A video tribute featuring fans, players and coaches was shown and Payton was presented with an updated framed jersey to commemorate his stellar career as a Beaver.
Oregon State will face Oregon on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. at Gill Coliseum in the Civil War presented by PacificSource Health Plans, The Oregon 529 College Savings Network, McDonalds, Wells Fargo Bank and Your Local Ford Stores. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.