UCLA's Anthony Stover, left, blocks a shot by Eastern Washington's… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
UCLA's downhill start to a once-promising season has been crammed with crippling losses — on and off the court.
To start, the Bruins lost by double digits in four of their first five games.
Then, after splitting their next two games, they lost first-team all-Pac-12 Conference forward Reeves Nelson, who was dismissed last week.
On Wednesday against Eastern Washington, UCLA dealt with another loss before tipoff, as forward Travis Wear was hospitalized because of a foot infection that is said to be related to a snorkeling accident in Hawaii last month.
But even without its second-leading scorer, UCLA won back-to-back games for the first time this season by topping the Eagles, 60-47, before 4,229 at the Sports Arena.
"This team has been through a lot of adversity already," guard Tyler Lamb said. "We take it, and we've got to deal with what's dealt to us."
UCLA (4-5) led many as 14 points in the first half, but that edge vanished early in the second half, as Eastern Washington (5-5) used a 12-2 run to pull to within two with 14 minutes 32 seconds left.
But UCLA answered with an 11-1 run, capped by a three-point shot from David Wear.
The Bruins, who were led in scoring by Lazeric Jones' 19 points, held on mostly on free throws, scoring half of their 32 second-half points from the line.
Jones suffered a minor cut underneath his chin that will require stitches.
One troubling stat: The Eagles had 19 offensive rebounds to seven for UCLA.
"Our rebounding has got to be a lot better," said UCLA Coach Ben Howland, whose 193rd victory at UCLA pushed him past Jim Harrick for second place on the all-time UCLA list.
Howland reluctantly installed a zone defense in UCLA's previous game against Pennsylvania and swore he would play it more, but the Bruins played solely man-to-man defense against the Eagles.
"I was afraid to zone this team because they shoot almost 37% from threes on the season," Howland said.
The Eagles shot nowhere near that, making only five of 22 from beyond the arc.
In an odd move, Eastern Washington, which was led by Collin Chiverton's 15 points, ran a clock-killing offense early in the first half.
But it backfired.
"We got off to a great start and it allowed us to rest," Howland said.
A 15-2 run gave the Bruins a 21-7 lead with 5:32 before halftime.
As for Travis Wear, who is averaging 10.6 points a game, the infection was on his same foot he cut while snorkeling Nov. 25 while the team was in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.
"He had the stitches out a week ago," Howland said, "and for some reason, he woke up [Tuesday] and there was redness and it got worse."
Travis spent Tuesday and Wednesday night in a hospital. The infection responded well to antibiotics, Howland said, and Wear is expected to be released Thursday.
He's listed as questionable for UCLA's game Saturday against UC Davis.