Beavers beat Oklahoma State, 80-70, to reach NCAA Sweet 16
Oregon State's stupendous postseason reached another level Sunday, as the Beavers played their way into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
The No. 12-seeded Beavers established control in the first half, leading by 18 points, and then withstood two Oklahoma State runs and went on to beat the fourth-seeded Cowboys 80-70 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in a second-round NCAA Tournament Midwest Region game.
Ethan Thompson overcame foul trouble in the first half — sitting for 11 minutes — to lead the Beavers (19-12), who move on to the Sweet 16 against another upstart team, Loyola Chicago (26-4), 11:40 a.m. PT Saturday, March 27. It's OSU's first Sweet 16 appearance since 1982.
But, again, it was a well-balanced game by Wayne Tinkle's Beavers, who have now won eight of the past nine games in one of our state's best sports stories in recent years.
"I never would have thought if we turned it over 20 times we'd have a chance, but it's just a credit to hte heart and the buy-in and the poise that we showed down the stretch," Tinkle said.
OSU was picked 12th in the Pac-12 preseason poll. The Pac-12 champion Beavers will be one of 16 Division I teams still standing.
The Beavers just wouldn't wilt even with the Cowboys applying defensive pressure and trying to go on runs, led by their projected NBA lottery pick Cade Cunningham, who might go No. 1 in the NBA Draft.
And, it was Thompson who was the best guard on the floor. He had 26 points, going 15 of 16 from the free-throw line, many of the makes down the stretch.
Jarod Lucas and Maurice Calloo each added 15 points — a transfer playing against his former team, Calloo scored 13 of his 15 in the first half, as he and Dearon Tucker helped lift the Beavers off the bench. Warith Alatishe and Roman Silva each had 12 rebounds, and Alatishi swatted two Cunningham jump shots. Silva had four blocks.
Oregon State held the Cowboys to .277 shooting (including 8 of 29 on 3-pointers). The Beavers also dominated the boards with a 55-33 rebounding advantage.
The Beavers went 32 of 35 on free throws, while Oklahoma State went 26 of 38 — that's a nine-point difference at the line.
The Beavers led 40-22 in the first half, and then 44-30 at halftime.
The Cowboys made their first run, a 22-10 start to the second half to draw within 54-52 on Cunningham's jumper.
But, Thompson started to hit free throws and Silva's basket made it 66-55 with 5:11 left after a 12-3 OSU run.
Alatishe blocked Cunningham's mid-range jump shot attempt and Thompson fast-break layup and free throw made it 70-61 with 4:05 to play.
Back-to-back 3-pointers brought the Cowboy's within 70-67, but the Beavers just wouldn't give up the lead. Thompson made a jumper and, later, a couple free throws to make it 74-67 with 1:44 to play, and the Beavers finished out the game with four free throws by Thompson and two by Lucas.
"We squandered (the lead) away. We panicked a couple of times, but we didn't ever back down," Tinkle said.
The 6-8 Cunningham had 24 points, but he didn't assert himself to make an impact on a big stage.
Oregon State moves on to play Loyola Chicago, which had a memorable Final Four run in 2018. The Ramblers of the Missouri Valley Conference are led by center Cameron Krutwig, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds in a second-round win over No. 1-seeded Illinois. The 6-9, 255-pound Krutwig averages 14.9 points and 6.7 rebounds.
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