Oregon State defeated Western Oregon 76-57 in their exhibition game Thursday night, exacting revenge on the Wolves after they defeated OSU in last year's game.
The Beavers started the game hot, racing out to a 17-2 lead right out of the gates. They executed well on defense and were hitting open shots. However, as quickly as they went up fifteen points, they let the Wolves claw their way back into the game just as fast. Western Oregon began to hit wide-open threes and OSU's offense sputtered. The Wolves ended up hitting 12 three pointers on the night, which was the reason why they stayed alive in this game. Soon enough, the gap was closed and the Beavers were only up 34-30. They nearly collapsed, but luckily, the Beavers had freshman Drew Eubanks and the Wolves did not.
Eubanks had several highlight-reel worthy plays on his way to 16 points, 10 rebounds and five emphatic blocks. Eubanks showcased his huge wingspan and nice hops by throwing down at least three earth-shattering dunks and swatting shots into the high heavens. He helped swing the momentum when the Beavers needed it most.
The second half began with some truly ugly basketball, with neither team able to score and way too many fouls. OSU revived themselves after a 10-2 run fueled by Thompson Jr. and Eubanks. Thompson Jr. made back-to-back buckets, and in one stretch, Eubanks threw down a huge reverse dunk, and then rejected a shot immediately after at the other end of the court before Western Oregon was forced to call a timeout. The crowd was on their feet and gave Eubanks a standing ovation as he checked out of the game. The game was over after that, and we even got to see reserve big man Justin Stangel come off the bench at the end.
There were a couple instances where the Beaver lineup on the floor showcased four true freshmen and only Gary Payton II to guide them. The freshmen more than held their own on the court though, and the game saw solid performances from newcomers Tres Tinkle, Derrick Bruce and Stephen Thompson Jr. Tinkle had 14 points on 5-10 shooting and seven rebounds, while Thompson Jr. had 12 points on 6-13 shooting. Thompson Jr. was off the mark behind the arc, missing all four of his attempts. The Beavers as a whole struggled from the three-point line, more often than not driving to the hoop rather than shooting from deep. They were 2-12 on three-pointers in total.
Payton struggled offensively in this one, and it appeared as though his shot was a bit off. He missed five of seven from the free throw line, which contributed in leaving the door open for Western Oregon. He found other ways to contribute (like he usually does) pitching in a whopping 17 rebounds and seven assists.
Three Wolves were in double figures against the Beavers, led by Akil Reese, who had 16 points, on 5 of 10 3 point shooting. Kadeem Strickland was close behind, with 15 points, and former Oregon Stater Alex Roth added 14.
If anything, this game gave us, and the nearly half-full crowd of 4,725, a glimpse at both the tantalizing potential as well as the present realities of our current team. The players showed immense talent and put together strings of great basketball, but their youth showed during the stretches when the offense grew stagnant and the defense struggled allowing Western Oregon to hang with the Beavers. We may grow accustomed to games like this one as the season goes on because of the roster's lack of experience and cohesiveness; games where the Beavers start hot but slowly fade away as the opponent adjusts. OSU was able to recover against a weak Western Oregon team that was minus a couple of starters tonight, but the Beavers will have to develop some consistency to avoid blowing leads. Overall, it was encouraging to see the young players play well, but the Beavers have plenty to work on.