Oregon St. coach Craig Robinson hugs Jared Cunningham after he and the rest of the Beavers put up a valiant effort in the Pac-12 Tournament. (US Presswire photo)
Final Score: Arizona 72 Oregon St. 61
Playing in their third game in 3 days in the Pac-12 Tournament, Oregon St. finally ran out of gas in the second half, and could do little but watch Arizona go rolling by to the 11 point win, and a berth opposite Colorado in the Saturday night Championship game.
"I spent most of the time just now in there (locker room) consoling guys who are completely beside themselves in grief, and I tried to tell them they shouldn't be, given how hard they worked, and how much they play together," Oregon St. head coach Craig Robinson said.
"I thought we ran out of gas," Robinson added.
There were signs that something like that might happen early on, when the Beavers took an early 2-0 lead, only to suffer a 5 minute scoring drought before Jared Cunningham sank a 3 pointer. Fortunately, Oregon St.'s defense had gotten off to a good start, and were only down 10-2 at that point.
Down 20-12 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half, the Beavers proceeded to go on a 22-7 run, taking a 34-27 halftime lead, and giving rise to hopes for a 4th game at the Staples Center to the Orange faithful.
Arizona ended such thoughts quickly, as Oregon St. again started slow in the second half, going nearly 5 minutes with only a Devon Collier layup. Meanwhile, the Wildcats ran off 14 points to go from 7 down to a 41-36 lead.Cunningham made only 1 of 2 free throws, and then the Beavers went scoreless for another 3 1/2 minutes.
The 'Cats were out to a 10 point, 47-37 lead by the time Cunningham made only the second Oregon St. basket from the floor of the second half at the 11:38 mark.
Roberto Nelson, who bounced back from missing all but a couple of stints only seconds in length in the win over Washington, and would ultimately lead Oregon St. in scoring, with 19 points, hit a 3 pointer a minute later to pull the Beavers within 47-42.
It was as close as the Beavers would get.
2 minutes later, Oregon St. hadn't scored any more, and they were down 12.
2 more minutes later, Arizona's Kyle Fogg, who finished with a game high, scored to open a 14 point, 58-44 lead, the largest of the game.
The Beavers never got the deficit down under 10 points the rest of the way.
Jesse Perry supplemented Fogg's efforts with 16 points, and completed a double double with a game high 11 rebounds.
Soloman Hill was also in double figures for the 'Cats, with 10 points.
Collier had another solid game in the tournament, with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Collier averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds per game over the last 3 days.
Cunningham, who played all 40 minutes of the game for the second night in a row, added 14 points, and also grabbed 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
Eric Moreland had 7 boards, but only 1 point, and Joe Burton, who has been playing well of late only came up with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Ahmad Starks was only 1 of 7 from the floor, finishing with just 4 points, and Angus Brandt only posted a single basket.
The real proof of how much the Beavers ran out of gas can be seen in their offensive production. Oregon St. shot just 27% in the second half, hitting only 9 of 33 shots, and scoring only 27 points, the lowest second half total of the season.
Oregon St. finished the tournament with a record of 19-14, a win shy of the coveted 20 win mark.
The Beavers may find out Sunday if their 2 tournament wins over the Washington schools were enough to get them an invitation to the NIT. Otherwise, another CBI appearance appears likely.
"I'd like to think that people would look at our team and feel we'd be a good participant in their tournament, but you never know," Robinson said. "We'll just wait and see. We'd love to keep playing."