The dream lives on: Beavers make Elite Eight
Oregon State is, unbelievably, one win away from the Final Four.
Defense led the way and senior Ethan Thompson played like a star again as the 12th-seeded Beavers beat No. 8 Loyola Chicago 65-58 Saturday in an NCAA Tournament Midwest Region semifinal in Indiana.
The Beavers (20-12) will play Houston (27-3), 4:15 p.m. PT on Monday. The No. 2 seed in the region, the Cougars pulled away in the second half on Saturday against No. 11 seed Syracuse, 62-46.
It's OSU's first regional final appearance since 1982.
Oregon State is the second 12th seed to make a regional final (Missouri in 2002) and will be shooting to become the first to reach the Final Four.
"That's so crazy," Thompson told CBS after the game. "Extremely blessed. We worked hard all year, and we're enjoying the moment right now."
The team picked 12th in the Pac-12 Tournament wasn't to be denied, again, as the Beavers (20-12) fell behind early in the Sweet 16 game and then rode their defense to a halftime lead. The Ramblers shot a woeful .174 in the first half, making only four baskets (three by Cameron Krutwig).
Oregon State's efficiency and effectiveness on offense continued throughout the game, led by Thompson.
Loyola Chicago (26-5) drew within 51-47 on Keith Clemons' basket, but Warith Alatishe scored after an offensive rebound.
The Ramblers made it 53-46 on Marquise Kennedy's driving basket, but Jarod Lucas buried a clutch 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining to make it 56-49.
Trailing 56-51, a Beavers' backcourt turnover gave Loyola Chicago a great opportunity to narrow the deficit, but Braden Norris missed an open 3-pointer. Alatishe followed with two free throws, and free throws continued to seal the win — two by Thompson, two by Zach Reichle, one by Reichle and two by Thompson.
Thompson had 22 points and Alatishe 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Beavers finished at .411 from the field (5 of 13 3-pointers) and a difference-making 18 of 20 from the free-throw line.
The real story was defense. Loyola Chicago played tight defense most of the game, and the Beavers had to work to find opportunities. Oregon State put the clamps on the Ramblers with mostly a zone defense and intermittent man-to-man.
The Ramblers hit some second-half shots and finished at .333 from the field (5 of 23 3-pointers, .217). They also missed seven free throws, going 17 of 24. Krutwig had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Oregon State won for the ninth time in 10 games, which included a run to a Pac-12 tourney title, and could make the Final Four with a win on Monday.
"We got a great group of guys, great character," Thompson told CBS. "Fun to be around them, so it's always easy to play loose and be confident in each other."
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