Oregon St. withstood a 3 point shooting barrage by Washington St. that cut a lead that twice was as large as 15 points down to 1 point, but the Beavers held on for a 1 point win. It was head coach Craig Robinson's first win against the Cougars and coach Ken Bone anywhere in eastern Washington.
Robinson made the move of the game in deciding to start Eric Moreland, and it paid off immediately. The insertion of Moreland was in response to Washington St. out-rebounding Oregon St. 33-22 when they beat the Beavers 71-68back on Jan. 26 in the teams' first meeting in Corvallis. Moreland had 6 rebounds in less than 9 minutes, and Oregon St. went on a 9-0 run to erase an early Washington St. lead, going up 13-7.
Moreland would go on to a double double, his 9th of the season, with a game high 14 rebounds, and 11 points, as well as 3 steals, 2 assists, and a block. Moreland's big night on the boards was a major factor in Oregon St. out-rebounding Washington St. 34-24, which led to the Beavers getting 12 second chance points, against only 2 by the Cougars.
The Beavers pulled ahead by as much as 10 points, going up 21-11 with 8 minutes left in the first half, on 3 free throws by Roberto Nelson, who again drew a foul while shooting a 3 pointer, something he's done several times of late.
The Cougars clawed back into it a little, and when Olaf Schaftenaar, who had hit a pair of first half 3 pointers, couldn't get a shot up at the end of the first half, Oregon St.'s lead was 33-26 at the break.
Oregon St. sprung their 1-3-1 zone defense on Washington St. to start the second half, and it resulted in 4 straight turnovers, which in turn resulted in the Beavers taking the first of 2 15 points leads, going up 43-28.
"The 1-3-1 really treated us well," Robinson said, "and its been a while since we got that kind of production out of it. What's notable is Ken (Bone) historically has done a good job against the 1-3-1. This might have been 1 of the best examples of it in the 5 years I've been here."
"This was a win that was earned over the last month," Robinson felt. "These guys have had some tough times, and we almost played only 38 of the 40 minutes again, but finally, there were some key plays made there at the end. The offensive rebound, and Eric's putback was big. Eric's had a rough conference season; it was good to see him have a game like this."
Nelson led Oregon St. with 17 points, but the surprise of the night was Challe Barton, who equaled Moreland's offensive possession, with a career high 11 points, including 3 3 pointers. It was critical given that Devon Collier and Joe Burton were both held to 8 points, and Starks had only 5.
"You don't think you can win a game when Devon goes 2 for 7 and Ahmad is 2 for 9," Robinson said. "It sure was big for Challe to have a game like this, especially on the road. He put us in position to win the game."
"What's important is we got the win," Barton added. "I was scared a little there at the end, Lacy had 27, but I was pleased with how we defended; they made some really tough shots."
Besides Lacy and Motum, only Royce Woolridge was in double digits for Washington St., with 10 points, though overall, the Cougars shot 50% from 3 point range, making 14 of 28, which they had to resort to, unable to penetrate the various Beaver defenses with any regularity all night.
Oregon St. improved to 13-12 for the season, and 3-9 in the Pac-12, keeping pace with Utah, who upset visiting Arizona St. 60-55 tonight. The Beavers and Utes are tied for 10th in the conference, while Washington St. dropped to 11-14, and 2-10 in conference, and into last place alone in the Pac.
"We can enjoy it tonight," Barton said, "but tomorrow we have to get back to work to get ready for Washington. The Huskies are probably the toughest team to play away; their place is a rough place to win at."
The Huskies will be in a foul mood, having lost 65-52 to conference leading Oregon (20-5, 8-3) tonight, ensuring the Ducks of their 3rd consecutive 20 win season in the 3 years Dana Altman has been their coach. Washington (13-12, 5-7) has now lost 3 in a row, and 7 of their last 8 games.
But for a couple of days at least, it will be a better day to be a Beaver again.