Oregon State's depth, size, and athleticism, not to mention their defense and dunking ability, were too much for visiting Iona Tuesday night. The Beavers broke open a close game late in the first half, opening a double digit lead they would never relinquish, and then answered a late second half Gaels rally to again pull away to win 93-73, and improve to 2-0 on the season.
It was a close game for most of the first half, with Iona holding a 23-21 lead when Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle took a time out with 6:54 left in the first half. The Beavers then went on an 18-2 run before surrendering a pair of late free throws, to take a 41-29 lead to the locker room.
It was both impressive, and a harbinger of good things to come for Oregon State, as the Beavers made the run without Gary Payton II, who set down with over 6 1/2 minutes to go in the first half, scoring only 2 points to that point (though it was his regularly scheduled every game highlight play, a steal that led to a 360 degree dunk).
It was also done without Drew Eubanks, who would make up for playing only 6 minutes in the first half, and score just 2 points as well, a product of a couple of early fouls.
The Gaels had not only hung in early, but actually had the upper hand, mostly due to 11 points by A.J. English. But Beaver balance and depth was already emerging, as Langston Morris-Walker and Malcolm Duvivier, below, both had 9 first half points, and Oregon State shot 50% from 3 point range. This while holding 3 point shot happy Iona, which had only one player on the floor as tall as 6'8", to 29% from beyond the arc in the early going, and just 32% overall.
Oregon State accomplished this with their 2-3 zone and a patient offense that prevented Iona from the run and gun contest they had hoped to have.
The second half was another matter, as Eubanks had 8 of Oregon State's first 9 points, and the Beavers expanded their lead to 16 points, going up 49-33 not 3 minutes after the break.
An 8-0 OSU run, sparked by freshman Stevie Thompson's shooting, and capped by a dunk by the freshman Eubanks, off a between the legs backward pass from freshman Tres Tinkle, saw Oregon State open their largest lead of the game not halfway thru the second half, going up 65-43.
It was still a 22 point lead after another Thompson basket that made it 71-49 with then only 8 1/2 minutes left.
But Iona showed why they are the preseason pick to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
After a Gaels timeout, Iona went on a run of hitting 5 consecutive 3s, and Oregon State suffered a stretch where 3 possessions in a row resulted in turnovers. Iona was able to up the tempo, just when Oregon State should have been slowing it down, and working the clock more. Coach Tinkle acknowledged post game that the Beavers lost focus a little during the stretch.
Iona cut the deficit to 13, down only 73-60 before Morris-Walker came to the offensive rescue for the Beavers.
LMW, above, had 7 straight points for Oregon State, and though Iona cut the once 22 point deficit in half when they got within 77-66, on Deyshonnee Much's 3rd chance 3, the Beavers would again pull away from the Gaels.
Eubanks went on a personal 6-0 run to cap his 17 point second half, and the Beavers, with numerous players off the bench, including both the remaining walk-ons, rebuilt their margin to 20 at the end.
Eubanks wound up leading Oregon State, with 19 points, but it was really a balanced effort, as 6 Beavers wound up in double digits. Morris-Walker was right behind, with 17, and Payton had 10 second half points, to finish with 12.
Payton, as usual, filled up the stat sheet, grabbing a game high 11 rebounds, for his 8th career double double, while also dishing out 5 assists, and snagging 4 steals.
Thompson provided instant offense when needed off the bench, and finished with 16 points, and Tres Tinkle tossed in another 11. Duvivier finished with 10.
English finished with a game high 20 points, but the Beaver defense did a good job of controlling clearly Iona's best weapon, holding him to only 4 of 14 on 3 point shots. English was 8 of 10 at the free throw line.
Much was much of the rest of the Iona offense, adding 15, and Isaiah Williams was also in double digits, but with just 11 points.
A less than half full Gill crowd of 4,344 saw the show, held down in part by ugly weather in the area. But the student turnout was strong.
Iona dropped to 0-2 on the season, while the win continued an early season blitz by the Pac-12 overall. The Beavers' win improved the conference to 19-3 so far.
Oregon State now hits the road, with a Thursday trip to Houston to take on Rice, and then a trip back to Santa Barbara for a late Saturday afternoon game against he Gauchos, a foolishly scheduled game that's opposite the Washington at Oregon State Senior Day football game.
The recruiting class of freshmen continue to all be impressive for Oregon State, but Eubanks, at 6'10" running the floor, and the fast break, is quickly emerging as a force to be reckoned with the like of which the Beavers haven't seen in a very long time. When you can upstage GP II in the highlight real department, you have done something.
(USA Today photos via SB Nation)