A Cody Riley layup and a Prince Ali 3-pointer in the final 2:14 completed a comeback, and UCLA beat Long Beach State 69-65 on Wednesday in Los Angeles in both teams’ season opener.
The result gave Mick Cronin a victory in his debut as Bruins coach.
UCLA trailed for almost 35 minutes of game time, sputtering offensively most of the night. The Bruins shot just 39.6 percent from the floor and hit just 5 of 19 attempts from behind the 3-point arc.
They knocked down two 3-pointers when it mattered most, however. With UCLA trailing 56-51 with 4:31 remaining, Chris Smith connected from deep on an Ali assist, kicking off an 18-9 Bruins run down the final stretch.
After Smith and teammate Jalen Hill made four consecutive free throws, Riley’s lay-in gave UCLA its first lead of the second half. Ali’s 3-pointer with 1:30 left put the game out of reach.
Riley scored 14 points for the Bruins while Smith recorded 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Tyger Campbell, who missed the entire 2018-19 season with an ACL injury, scored a team-high 15 points in his delayed college debut.
Ali scored 10 points off the bench. His status coming into Wednesday was uncertain after he turned his ankle in the Bruins’ Oct. 30 exhibition against Stanislaus State.
Long Beach State built a nine-point lead early and maintained its edge for most of the night with a 2-3 zone that frustrated the poor shooting Bruins.
The 49ers shot 47.4 percent from 3-point range (9 of 19). The free-throw line was less kind. Long Beach State went 8 of 16 while UCLA made 22 of 31.
Long Beach State’s Chance Hunter was a perfect 4-for-4 from deep, and he did not miss a shot from the floor until the second half. He finished with 19 points.
The 49ers’ Michael Carter III led all scorers with 20 points, and he also hit four 3-pointers. Center Joshua Morgan added 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
—Field Level Media