Oregon St. used defense and free throw shooting down the stretch, mostly by Malcolm Duvivier, to put away Arizona St. 55-47 Thursday night.
After frustrating the Sun Devils most of the night, the Beavers buried 8 straight free throws, and 9 of 10, after the final media timeout in response to a 9-2 Arizona St. run, and overcome the fact the Oregon St. only hit 1 shot from the floor after Victor Robbns' runner had made it a 10 point, 42-32 game with still 8:45 to go.
And the Beavers had to do it without Olaf Schaftenaar, who sprained his left ankle when he stepped on an Arizona St. player's foot with 13 1/2 minutes left.
For another perspective, here's Connor's take on the game.
Oregon St. got off to a good start because Gary Payton II did, scoring 8 of the Beavers' first 10 points, including the dunk above, and then a variety of players made contributions, as the Beavers opened a 6 point, 18-12 lead by midway in the first half.
Oregon St.'s defense dominated the latter portion of the first half, as the Beavers opened an 8 point advantage on a pair of Robbins free throws, got the lead to 9 on Daniel Gomis' dunk with 4 1/2 minutes to go, and finally as large as 10 points on 2 more free throws, this time by Duvivier, before heading to halftime up 29-20.
Arizona St. didn't score from the floor after Roosevelt Scott's basket with 7:39 left in the first half, and the Sun Devils' 20 points were their lowest production in the first half in any of their 15 games this season, as the Beaver defense, which leads the Pac-12, held both of their leading scorers, Savon Goodman and Gerry Blake, scoreless.
Payton answered Scott's shot by becoming the only player to get into double digits before the break, starting an 8-2 Oregon St. run.
The Beavers had a narrow edge early on the boards, overall, but had 8 on the offensive end, making much of the difference.
Goodman finally got on the board to start the second half, but Blakes picked up his 3rd foul, and that would be the end of Goodman's offense for the night as well, as both finished with just 2 points apiece.
Langston Morris-Walker was also scoreless in the first half, and he too got going shortly after the break, answering Goodman's basket with a 3 pointer. Morris-Walker also had Oregon St.'s last 3 made free throws, and finished just shy of a double digit night, with 8 points.
Down 10 at the first media timeout of the second half, went on an 8-3 run, as Arizona St. head coach Herb Sendek called for even more 3 pointers, despite the fact that the Sun Devils had hit only 1 of 6 in the first half.
Bo Barnes wrapped a pair of 3s around Payton's only basket of the second half to pull within 35-30, but Oregon St. coach Wayne Tinkle's adjustments defensively put an end to Barnes' scoring spree, and Arizona St. sank only 1 more 3 the rest of the night, and wound up a disastrous 4 of 21, just 19%.
That one last made 3, by Kodi Justice, did pull the Sun Devils within 5 points, and Jonathan Gilling capped the 9-2 run with a basket that pulled the Sun Devils within 1 possession, trailing 44-41 with less than 4 minutes to go.
But Duvivier wrapped 6 free throws around one more Robbins basket to rebuild the lead to 7 points, and Morris-Walker made 3 of 4 from the line to match multiple earlier 10 point leads, as Arizona St. managed only a pair of baskets by Shaq McKissic in the last minute, which got him into double digits, joining Eric Jacobsen with 11 points each, to lead the Sun Devils, and keep the margin of victory out of double digits.
"We were as locked on to the game plan for most of the game, as we have been," Tinkle said. "We played a lot more man than normal, but that's because we are not a great communicating team yet, and you have to be
when you play a lot of zone, especially when you are playing teams at this level. Our guys took the challenge on, and did a pretty darn good job."
It wasn't perfect though, especially offensively for Oregon St., and Tinkle took note of that as well.
"We messed up offensive sets seven times out of timeouts. Seven times we ran something totally different than we were supposed to, and that is very draining," Tinkle said. "But we said we've made mistakes, but we're going to be locked, and get stops."
Duvivier led all scorers, with 15 points, on 10 of 11 free throw shooting, and Payton and Robbins, above, were also in double digits, with 12 and 10 points apiece.
Payton had been very aggressive in the first half, but only found the basket once after the break, but did have a pair of steals and an assist, as well as a co-team high 5 rebounds (with Gomis and Duvivier, who was everywhere).
"My shot wasn't falling, so I tried to get the rest of my teammates more involved in the second half," Payton said postgame.
Jacobsen led everyone, with 7 rebounds, but got minimal help, and Oregon St. collectively held a 10 board, 34-24 edge on the glass.
"Everybody crashed the boards," Robbins explained. "It wasn't just one person, our guards rebounded like they usually do, and combined for 15 boards."
The Beavers improved to 10-4 for the season, and evened their Pac-12 mark at 1-1, and kept their home record spotless, having won all 9 contests this season at Gill Coliseum. It's the best beginning of the season at home since the 88-89 team started 10-0, even if this one falls in the "ugly win" category. The winning streak will be tested Sunday night, when 7th ranked Arizona comes to Corvallis. The 'Cats downed the Ducks 80-62 tonight in Eugene.
The Sun Devils slipped to 8-7, and 0-2 in conference, and still haven't won a game away from Wells Fargo Arena this season. Arizona St. has now lost 12 in a row away from Tempe.
It was a good night to be a Beaver, and Benny celebrated with the Beaver Dam, back in force in the first week of winter term, which buoyed the attendance just over 4,600, almost half filling Gill.
(Photos by USA-Today, via SB Nation)