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Beavers blow out Fullerton in Far West Classic free throw fest

Oregon State got back to its winning ways on Friday, easily handling Cal State Fullerton for an 82-69 victory.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND - It wasn't always easy on Friday night, but the Oregon State Beavers ushered the Far West Classic back to the City of Roses in style. Wayne Tinkle's team used a 19-8 run to close the first half with a 12-point lead before eventually cruising to a 82-69 win, improving their record to 7-2 in the process.

The game marked the return of the Far West Classic to the Rose Quarter, a once prominent tournament that was last played in 1996. Over 8,000 fans turned out for the night-cap portion of day one, which featured the Beavers and the visiting Cal State Fullerton Titans.

"It's a great feeling to give some of Beaver Nation in Portland some games and excitement," said point guard Gary Payton II.

Those fans were treated to an Oregon State victory that saw both teams combine for 43 fouls. The Beavers ended up gaining a big edge from the battle at the charity stripe, making 22 of their free throws compared to their opponents' 16.

Payton led all scorers on the night with 19 points. The senior point guard was seven of 10 from the field and added in a game high eight rebounds.

"He stepped up," said head coach Wayne Tinkle on Payton's performance. "He made some big key plays for us."

Payton got his team off to a fast start, scoring a quick five points after Cal State Fullerton opened the contest with an old fashioned three-point play. The game went back and forth like that for the next 13 minutes, with both teams continually trading baskets. By the time the first half came to a close, the lead had changed a total of nine times.

"I give a lot of credit to Fullerton," Tinkle said. "They kept fighting back."

Using a variety of different defensive looks, including a feisty 1-3-1 trap, Tinkle's team began to distance itself from the Titans towards the end of the first half. They opened up a double digit lead at 39-28 for the first time with two minutes remaining, and the advantage was 44-32 once both teams went to the locker rooms.

Oregon State seized some of that momentum and carried it into the start of the final stanza, blitzing Cal State Fullerton with loads of energy. A no-look pass from Langston Morris-Walker set Payton up for a fantastic 360 dunk, bringing the crowd to its feet and forcing a Titan timeout. That emphatic slam made it a 17-point game, putting thoughts of a comeback in the back of everyone's minds.

"We weren't looking past tonight's opponent to tomorrow," said Tinkle. "Credit them for that."

To Fullerton's credit, the overmatched visitors from the Big West stayed competitive for most of the game. A spirited run pulled them to within nine with 12 minutes to play, but a quick 4-0 run stretched the lead back to 59-46 soon thereafter.

The lead hovered around that margin for the remainder of the night. The OSU starters were able to exit to a standing ovation with 90 seconds left, and the final was 82-69.

"We talked to the guys before the game about seizing this moment," Tinkle said. "It was a big step forward for our young group."

The tournament continues, and concludes, tomorrow, with Oregon State facing the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the final game of this year's Far West Classic. Tipoff is set for 8:00 PM.