Dylan Andrews' hot shooting lifts UCLA to a Pac-12 tournament win over Oregon State

For half a season, he was disparaged as not being a true point guard.

Find somebody else to run UCLA’s offense, the criticism went. Get busy in the transfer portal.

Dylan Andrews offered his rebuttal with feathery jumpers and precise passes, even if it wasn’t enough to satisfy some observers. Left off the Pac-12’s first and second teams, Andrews continued to make his case for being perhaps the conference’s most overlooked player Wednesday afternoon.

The sophomore was a sight to behold every time the fifth-seeded Bruins needed him during a 67-57 victory over 12th-seeded Oregon State at T-Mobile Arena.

Burying one big shot after another, Andrews finished with a career-high 31 points while adding to his late-season haul of highlights. He made 11 of 15 shots, including seven of nine three-pointers, every one of them needed on a day that fellow starters Lazar Stefanovic and Sebastian Mack combined for only six points.

UCLA (16-16) advanced to face fourth-seeded Oregon in a quarterfinal on Thursday afternoon. The teams split their two meetings in the regular season, each winning on its home court.

The Bruins would be headed home were it not for Andrews.

With UCLA teetering midway through the second half, a onetime 15-point lead down to seven, Oregon State had the ball and a chance to make things even tighter. That’s when Andrews came up with a steal that he followed with a three-pointer that restored the Bruins’ advantage to double figures.

Later, after the Beavers had pulled to within 46-42 on back-to-back three-pointers, Andrews countered with one of his own. Center Adem Bona added 17 points and six rebounds for the Bruins.

Jordan Pope finished with 16 points in the final Pac-12 game for Oregon State (13-19), which is bound for the West Coast Conference alongside Washington State next season.

UCLA is trying to fashion a different ending on the court where not much has gone right. About the only highlight here was a victory over Ohio State during the Lonzo Ball season, the rest of the memories not bound for any scrapbook. The Bruins have not won a Pac-12 tournament title here while also logging losses to North Carolina, Illinois and Baylor.

There was also a dreary blowout against Gonzaga in November 2021 before the heartbreaker against the Bulldogs during the Sweet 16 last year.

The first half was a study in contrasts for Bona, who committed five turnovers while struggling against the Beavers’ 2-3 zone. Bona was so frustrated after dribbling off his body for his fifth turnover that he placed both hands on his head before doubling over in anguish. Stefanovic came over to console him with a pat on the back going into a timeout.

But Bona also flashed dual dominance by driving past Oregon State counterpart Michael Rataj for a dunk and forcing a five-second violation with relentless defense on Dexter Akanno.

Andrews also continued to be a two-way force, making five of seven shots on the way to 13 points by halftime while also holding Pope to five points on two-for-seven shooting.

His best was yet to come for a team that needed every bit of it.

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