Beavers Buck Off Over-Matched Broncos

Joe Burton led a dominating inside effort by Oregon St., and Ahmad Starks snapped out of his recent slump as well as the Beavers beat Texas Pan-American easily. - (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Final Score: Oregon St. 84 Texas Pan-American 59

Oregon St. bounced back from what had been an embarrassing Saturday for the team, not to mention Beaver Nation in general, bucking off an over-matched Texas Pan-American for an 84-59 win to close out the year, and non-conference play for the season.

With no one on the Broncos' roster over 6'7", the priority for Oregon St. was to get production inside, and Joe Burton led that effort early, hitting his first 5 shots. The Beavers needed the fast start that afforded, as Texas Pan-American matched Oregon St. shot for shot early, with ties at 2, 4, and 6, before Oregon St. took the lead for good, and never looked back.

The Broncos, who are from the Great West Conference, but are moving up to the WAC next year, came in with a sub-.500 7-8 record, but have been playing much better of late, having won 3 in a row, including a 56-52 win last Saturday at the University of Portland, and 5 of their last 6.

The substantial size advantage Oregon St. had inside resulted in an early 12-0 advantage in points in the paint, and that in turn opened things for the Beavers' guards.

Ahmad Starks, who had shot only 8 of 31 in the last 5 games, and had apologized to head Coach Craig Robinson and the team for the loss Saturday, stepped up his game as promised, hitting 3 3 pointers on 3 consecutive Oregon St. possessions, and then Roberto Nelson opened the first double digit lead of the game with a basket that made it 23-13 Oregon St. at the 11:38 mark.

Texas Pan-American was seriously hindered in keeping up with Oregon St. once the Beavers got their offense rolling, as the Broncos were playing without 6'3" guard Brandon Provost, who missed the game with back spasms. Provost is the Broncos' leading scorer, averaging 15.7 points, per game, and had 20 in the win over the Pilots.

"I think I scored our first 10 points real quick, and then they started sagging off (the perimeter)," Burton said. "We have Ahmad and Roberto and Olaf on the outside, and they started taking their shots. They started hitting, and then they started pushing (the ball) back down. So it was a push-pull kind of thing. It was a double-edged sword for them (UTPA). It was good to have everybody play well on the inside and outside."

Devon Collier opened the lead to 12 points just before the mid-way mark of the first half, but Texas Pan-American then whittled the deficit down to 7 points. It was as close as they would get though, as Burton made his 6th shot of 7 to that point, and back to back baskets by Starks made it 42-24 Oregon St. by halftime.

Starks was 6 for 8 in the first half, including 4 of 6 from 3 point range, for 16 points, well on his way to a game high 21. Burton had 4 rebounds to go with his 12 first half points, and Eric Moreland had 5 boards as well by the break. The Beavers shot 63% in the first half, including 40% on 3 pointers, while holding the Broncos to 37% shooting, and just 2 of 8 on 3 pointers.

Oregon St.'s size advantage also produced a 17-11 rebounding advantage, and that only became more pronounced as Burton and Moreland wore down the undersized Broncos, and the Beavers finished with a 43-20 edge on the boards.

A Burton bucket made it 44-26 less than a minute into the second half, but UTPA answered with a 6-0 run, and pulled within 11 points, down only 50-39 after Aaron Urbanus' 3 pointer 5 minutes later. There would be no blowing a large second half lead on New Year's Eve however, as Starks sank another 3 pointer, and Collier followed up with a basket to reopen a 16 point lead.

The lead reached 20 points for the first time on Challe Barton's layup with 8:45 left that made it 62-42, and Moreland enjoyed scoring off an assist from Burton so much he did it a second time to give himself a double double, and Burton completed his double double with a rebound with just under 5 minutes left.

Moreland finished with 11 points and a game high 11 rebounds, while Burton called it an afternoon after sinking 9 of 12 shots, for 18 points, and grabbing 10 rebounds. Burton also handed out a game high 7 assists.

Collier came off the bench and added 12 points, after shooting 3 for 3 in each half.

Nelson opened the first of 3 30 point Oregon St. leads with a 3 pointer to make it 75-45 with 4:40 left, and became the 5th Beaver in double digits with a basket that increased his total to 11 points, and made it 82-52.

Oregon St. settled for the 25 point victory, as Robinson had 3 freshmen plus C.J. Mitchell on the floor with 2 1/2 minutes left, and cleared the bench, with even all the walkons in the game with over a minute and a half left.

The Beavers shot a season high 62% from the field as they improved to 10-3 for the preseason. Oregon St. will next play next Sunday, 1/6, at 7 PM, in their Pac-12 campaign opener at home against Oregon in the first battle of the Civil War of the season.

Hurley Johnson led Texas Pan-American, with 14 points, in his frist career start, playing place of Provost. But only one other Bronco was in double figures, Urbanus with 11. Urbanus hit only 1 of 8 3 pointers, and UTPA made only 3 of 18 3 pointers, 18.8%, less than half of their team average, and under 37% overall.

"You don't put teams away by coming out of halftime and just trying to shoot them out of the game," Robinson said; "you do it by coming out and playing good defense. We didn't for a couple of minutes there, but then it came around."

Oregon St. allowed only 2 free throws in a 6 1/2 minute stretch while going on a 16-2 run, allaying any fears of another collapse like Saturday's loss of a 20 point lead the crowd of 3,276 might have had.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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