Final Score: Oregon St. 83 UNC Charlotte 70
Calvin Haynes had a career high 27 points in only 30 minutes to lead Oregon St. past the Charlotte 49ers of the Atlantic 14/10 Conference on Thanksgiving Eve. Haynes hit a three pointer to get things started, and the Beavers only trailed once, by one point midway in the first quarter.
Oregon St. built the lead back to 9 points three times before halftime, and took a 44-35 lead to the locker room.
The Beavers built the lead to 20 points by eight minutes into the second half, on a free throw by Devon Collier, who made his first start, and tallied 12 points.
Charlotte rallied, but Oregon St. avoided the second half slump that sunk them against Seattle and Texas Southern, and the 49ers didn't get the margin down to single digits until Jamar Briscoe buried a three pointer with only 1:34 left, to pull within 78-70.
It was as close as Charlotte would come though, as Haynes wrapped three free throws around an Omari Johnson layup to close out the game.
Johnson had one of his more complete games, with his third career double double, and second of the season, scoring 16 points to go with 12 rebounds. Johnson also had a pair of steals, playing well at the point of the Oregon St. 1-3-1 defense, and served up 3 assists.
Jared Cunningham was the fourth Beaver in double digits, with 13 points.
Joe Burton missed out on either end of a double double, with 8 boards and 6 points, but his passing produced a team high 7 assists. Burton also snagged a couple of steals.
"It was a great overall team effort," coach Craig Robinson said afterwards. "As I said before the game, we have to learn to play with a lead. I thought we showed we had learned tonight. And we found a player in Devon Collier."
Oregon St.'s improvement on defense was a big factor, as the Beavers combined for 15 steals, and made much greater use of their 1-3-1 defense in the second half than in recent games.
"Our 1-3-1 is as good as it's ever been in this early stanza of the year," Robinson added. "We aren't normally this good on defense this early. A lot of that has to do with Omari (Johnson) at the top, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that we're rebounding better this year out of the 1-3-1. And that's a hard zone (formation) to rebound out of.
Briscoe led Charlotte with 20 points, including 5 of 10 from three point range. Shamari Spears and Derrio Green were also in double figures for the 49ers, with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Oregon St. took better care of the ball, turning it over only 10 times, despite running more than in any game this season.
The game drew a season small crowd, made even smaller by an early campus shutdown that sent most students and staff away for the weekend early in the day, after a fire in a steam tunnel disrupted power and data to much of the campus. Gill and Reser, located on the opposite corner of campus from where the problem was, were two of the very few locations not affected.
The Beavers squared their season record at 2-2, and left at 2:30 AM Thanksgiving morning to catch a flight to Washington DC, for Saturday's game against the Howard Bison. Howard is 1-4, after losing 4 straight, including a 66-54 loss to American University in their last outing on Tuesday night.
Charlotte dropped to 2-4 for the season.
Saturday's game, which can be heard on some stations on the Beaver Radio Sports Network, will be at 1 PM PST, allowing Beaver fans to catch it in its entirety before the Oregon St. football game at Stanford, scheduled for 4:30 PST.
The Oregon St. community now takes a day to celebrate friends and family, after the coldest November week in 25 years. But as Erin Nickell's photo shows, it was still a great week to be a beaver!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!