Oregon St. defeated the Pac-10 leading California Golden Bears 80-64 Thursday night, and it was the Beavers' inside game that made the difference. Whenever you finish with five players in double figures, as Oregon St. did, it's usually a sure sign that you won the battle in the paint, and this was no exception.
A ten point advantage in the paint (42-32), and a dozen rebound edge (34-22) gave the Beavers the upper hand for all but the first two and a half minutes of the game.
Patrick Christopher, who had 12 points for the Golden Bears, sank a three pointer to start the game, and it looked briefly like Cal had the outside shooting going to deal with the Beavers' 1-3-1 zone defense.
But Roeland Schaftenaar answered with five straight points, and Oregon St. was off and running. The Beavers would never trail again, gaining a split of the season series with the Bears. Oregon St. has now won three of the last four meetings with Cal.
Schaftenaar had 16 of his game and season high 22 points in the first half, as the Beavers shot a solid 52% from the field. Roe also had a career best night at the free throw line, hitting 12 of 15. Cal kept it close, though, hitting over 54% of their shots, but still trailed 39-36 at the break.
The conversation at halftime by the Fox Sports Network crew of Barry Tompkins and Marquis Johnson (who Tompkins covered when he was a player) was whether Oregon St. could keep up the shooting pace they had set.
The Beavers, who don't lose halftime leads, did more than keep it up; they improved to 57% shooting, turning their best night of the season, and improving to 10-0 this season in games they lead at the break.
Joe Burton had his best career outing, and the freshman did most of it in the second half, when he had 10 of his twelve points, including a three pointer from the left side that ignited the Oregon St. crowd of just over 6,600.
Burton also had eight boards, and a slick assist on a pass down the lane, but really endeared himself to Beaver Nation with a couple of hustling dives deep into the crowd after loose balls.
Oregon St. didn't relent on defense either, and it was Cal that couldn't keep up the pace offensively. The Bears hit only nine of 24 second half shots, 37.5%.
Moreover, Cal became frustrated, as exhibited by the incidents that fouled out two players. Markhuri Sanders-Frison, out of Jefferson high in Portland, picked up two technical fouls, the second coming on the heels of his fourth foul with 8:21 left. An admittedly missed call on Burton prompted the problem, but it evidenced the frustration he was having dealing with the physical Beaver backup post.
And Jorge Gutierrez got his fifth foul in the Beavers' backcourt, working against Seth Tarver with 3:28 left. Gutierrez had been one of the Bear's best defensive forces all game long.
To put these events into some perspective, it is worth noting that Cal, despite using a relatively short bench, had only six player disqualification all season.
S. Tarver, who took exception this past week to the notion that Oregon St. has suffered a talent gap, finished with 16 points, one more than Cal's leading scorer Theo Robertson. S. Tarver also led everyone, with seven assists.
Jared Cunningham and Calvin Haynes rounded out the Oregon St. quintet in double digits, with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Cal could only get Robertson and Christopher into double digits.
Jerome Randall, last weekend's Pac-10 player of the week, on the strength of 33 and 24 point nights against the Washington schools, was held to six points by the Beaver defense, and has yet to hit a three pointer this year against OSU. Randall, who averages nearly 20 points per game, is probably hoping to never see the 1-3-1 again, having made only one of his last 16 three point attempts, dating to last season.
The win, Oregon St.'s second in a row, improved the Beavers to within one game of .500, both overall and in the Pac-10. The Beavers are 12-13, and 6-7 in conference, heading into Saturday's showdown at high noon with Stanford at Gill Coliseum. The Beavers are in seventh place, but only a game out of fourth place, and two games out of second in the tight Pac-10 race that got tighter with their win over Cal.
The Cardinal (12-14, 6-8) held off an Oregon rally to defeat the Ducks (12-13, 4-9) 72-65 in Eugene tonight to drop the Ducks into last place in the conference chase.
Cal (17-9, 9-5), who faces Oregon Saturday, remains in the lead of the Pac-10, one half game ahead of Arizona St. (18-8, 8-5). The Sun Devils face Arizona Sunday.