Inside job lifts Beavers past 49ers
CORVALLIS — Wayne Tinkle could have done without all the first-half turnovers, the six-minute dry spell and the missed free throws down the stretch.
Still, Oregon State's 89-81 victory over Long Beach State Saturday night at Gill Coliseum resonated with the fourth-year coach.
"It was a good win," Tinkle said. "Ugly. I told the guys a year ago we'd have probably lost it. We found out a way to gut it out."
A year ago, the Beavers didn't have the horses to win these kind of games — or just about any game, for that matter. With Tres Tinkle sidelined with injury most of the season and depth in the slim or none category, Oregon State struggled to a 5-26 record, including 1-17 in Pac-12 action.
But the junior Tinkle is back, freshman Ethan Thompson is on board and the Beavers are off to a 2-1 preseason start. They beat Southern Utah 99-82 to open the season, then lost 75-66 to Wyoming on Monday.
"We're a young team, still growing maturity-wise early in the year," the senior Tinkle said. "I was proud of them for hanging in there and making the plays to close it out at the end."
Oregon State's biggest weapons are 6-8 Tres Tinkle and 6-10 junior center Drew Eubanks.
Tinkle scored 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting, but the sleek southpaw also had seven turnovers and missed three of four foul shots in the final 2:11.
"Tres looked like he was a little bit tentative, and that's not him," his father said. "He needs to be more aggressive. I promise you, nobody is going to be more disappointed than he is."
Eubanks was a man among boys against the smaller 49ers (2-1), who opened the season with easy wins over San Francisco and San Francisco State. Eubanks finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in 37 minutes, sinking 9 of 12 shots from the field — including five dunks.
"I knew they weren't going to have anybody long, or strong enough to take me on inside," the former Reynolds High star said. "The guys got me the ball in good position, and I shot it pretty good."
Long Beach State's center, 6-7, 265-pound junior Temidayo Yussuf, is recovering from knee surgery.
"Eubanks was the difference," 49ers coach Dan Monson said. "He was a load for us. We had to go small, and we had no answer for him inside."
Long Beach State led only once — at 3-0 in the game's first minute — but always stayed within reach of Oregon State. The Beavers failed to score on 10 straight possessions — five missed shots and five turnovers — in a stretch midway through the first half.
"We were stuck on 18 (points) forever," Coach Tinkle said.
"But we scored only (four) points during that spell," Monson said. "They had us frustrated offensively, too."
The 49ers, who trailed 40-31 at halftime, cut the difference to 46-45 early in the second half and were still within 81-78 with 1:02 remaining.
Stevie Thompson Jr. came through with a driving layup, though, and the Beavers closed out by going 6 for 6 at the line.
The 49ers stayed close by sinking 6 of 11 3-point attempts in the second half. Oregon State was only 5 for 19 from the 3-point line for the game. Both teams had 18 turnovers — 11 apiece in the first half.
"They hit some tough shots, but overall our defense was pretty solid," Coach Tinkle said. "They're a talented team. They have a lot of athletes.
"You saw a lot of good stuff from us, too, when we executed in the halfcourt. More good than bad, that's for sure."
Oregon State shot .554 from the field and was 26 for 37 (.702) on 2-point attempts. Many of those were shots by Eubanks around the basket.
"We want to start inside and work our way out," said sophomore point guard JaQuori McLaughlin, who contributed eight points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals. "We want to get the ball to Drew first. He makes it easier for everybody else."
Thompson Jr. had 17 points and six boards, including nine points over the final 3:09 when the Beavers really needed his offense.
"I looked at Stevie with five or six minutes left and said, 'Now's your time,'" Coach Tinkle said.
But the 6-4 junior was 0 for 5 from 3-point range and is 1 for 15 from beyond the arc this season.
"We just have to get him to relax," Coach Tinkle said. "We know he's a great shooter."
Thompson Jr.'s younger brother, Ethan, is OSU's other starter. The 6-5 newcomer had eight points, five assists and four rebounds against the 49ers. His presence means Tinkle can bring 6-4 sophomore Kendal Manuel, who started a year ago, off the bench.
"We have pieces," Tinkle said. "Eventually, once we develop some of our young guys, depth will be a strength of ours."
A year ago, without Tres Tinkle, Long Beach State beat Oregon State 71-67 at Moda Center. How does Monson think the Beavers — who start two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman — will fare in the Pac-12 this season?
"It's way too early to know," said Monson, son of former Oregon coach Don Monson. "They have the pieces this year that they didn't have last year to be in the upper half (of the Pac-12), but they have a long way to go, like everybody does this time of year.
"Whoever is more in sync is going to win these preseason games, and they executed better on offense and defense tonight than we did."
The Beavers next venture to Orlando, Florida, for the eight-team Advocate Invitational, with a field that includes Long Beach State, Missouri, St. John's, Central Florida, West Virginia, Nebraska and Marist. OSU opens with St. John's on Thanksgiving Day and is on the same side of the bracket as Long Beach State and Missouri.
"It's going to be great competition," Coach Tinkle said. "There is a lot of talent there. It's going to be a real test for our young group."