This game was obviously different from the get-go with Gill Coliseum being loud well before the game even started. The line to get in went all the way to Reser. Beaver fans were fired up and it showed with a nearly full arena, there were an estimated
1,000 300 seats left or so. Final attendance was 9,339, the largest of the season at Gill. Beaver Nation was there to support Tinkle and the boys, and they were bringing the noise (though the largest Duck contingent at a Corvallis CW in several seasons was also on hand) .
It was senior night as well and so Tinkle ran out a surprise line-up of five walk-ons. It was an incredibly kind sentiment, as these guys had worked in practice all year with no glory and nothing to show for all of their hard work. The general sentiment from all over was how great a move it was by Tinkle.
"I thought on the way home from the Bay Area trip that we have no seniors to celebrate a Senior Night," Tinkle said. "It was something I wanted to do to honor our guys. It was the Civil War, and I thoughT starting walk-on Oregon kids would be a heck of a way to pay tribute to all they have meant to us. It was to honor those guys for their commitment to the program. It was the right thing to do, and moving forward I think it sends a pretty important message to our group about what is important to us, to our program and to our priorities."
Basketball-wise it went worse as the walk-on brigade could not beat the press which lead to 3 easy Duck points. That forced Tinkle to give them the hook and bring in the starters, but more on the walk-ons at the end.
After the starters came in they did not immediately improve the situation as the run ballooned up to 8-0 Ducks before the Beavers had an answer but they clawed back with fantastic defense and timely shots, bringing the game back to OSU's favor with a 16-13 lead.
OSU kept building a lead, primarily on the back of Jarmal Reid. He was utilizing his strength on straight-line drives and finishing, and the other Beavers were scoring around him.That carried on until Joe Young showed up and started draining any midrange jumper he looked at. The Beavers were still holding on though, but the physical play started to become more of a factor.
This whole game was a battle, both teams were flying to every ball. Rebounding was especially contentious, with the refs letting a lot of stuff go both teams were throwing their bodies around. This rose to a fever pitch when UO's Dwayne Benjamin fell to the floor with the ball resulting in traveling. The Beaver crowd was loud enough that play continued past the whistles though and GPII got in a minor altercation with Dillon Brooks. Payton was called for a technical, but the feisty play never went that far again.
That gave Joe Young 2 free throws which added to his strong play in the latter portion of the 1st half. He was really the Ducks offense for most of the half, adding 9 points and assisting on a three in the last 5 minutes of the half.
The Beavs made just enough shots to hold on and the teams went into the locker rooms tied at 32 after Duvivier, above shooting over Benjamin (AP photo), knocked down a shot to end the half.
The second half started with two quick Beaver threes which forced a timeout from the Ducks. Then they came back out and got things even again with both defenses playing very well. Both teams kept trading sparse buckets and just like the first half the Beavers were starting to push ahead.
Then GPII got a third foul, which wasn't a big deal, until he dove into a Duck player's legs while chasing a loose ball. He was forced to sit and the game turned back to UO, with a gradual push until Tinkle was forced to burn a timeout just 2 minutes after Payton left the game. The score was 48-44 and things looked dire.
Jarmal Reid came to the rescue though with a huge jumper and the defense stepped up followed by a Duvivier jumper to tie the game back up. The Beavers then got a steal and Langston Morris-Walker was fouled on his way to the basket. He could not convert either though and the game stayed tied.
The Ducks pushed from there forcing another OSU timeout, which proved costly in the end game when the Beavers could not organize for late-game plays. From there both teams just kept trading runs, but the Beaver runs were limited to bringing the game back to a tie and they never reclaimed the lead. There were some good moments by OSU a fantastic hustle basket by Payton II to grab a loose ball and finish at the rim, a terrific tip rebound pass from Reid to Payton II to keep the Beavs in it but the Ducks just kept ahead.
OSU made one last run at it however with the score 59-56. Olaf had just turned the ball over and the Ducks looked sure to win, but GPII came up with a huge steal and an even better bounce pass to Duvivier who finished the play with a lay-up. The Beavs had to foul thanks to the clock running down and Elgin Cook managed to sink both. This still left the Beavers a lifeline with the score only 61-58, but Duvivier took the ball into traffic and it was stripped.
From there the Ducks did not miss any free throws (a benefit of having 2 players on the floor besides Young who also shoot above 80% at the line) and despite a clutch Olaf three that capped his best game in a month, an 11 point evening with 3 made 3s, the game came to a close with Ducks dancing away on Ralph Miller Court.
Duvivier finished with a game high 18 points, while Cook paced Oregon with 17. Reid was next in line, with 16 points, including 6 of 7 at the free throw line, which is where the Ducks effectively won the game.
Oregon made 19 of 24 free throws, while Oregon St. was only 8 of 11.
The battle of team leading guards was a great one, with Young finishing with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals, while GP II, above (AP photo), had 13 points, and 10 rebounds, for the game's only double double. Having to sit multiple minutes in the second half as a result of the foul trouble probably cost him a triple double, as Payton finished with 9 assists, to go with a game high 6 steals.
Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Benjamin were also in double digits, both with a dozen.
The Beavers came with hustle and heart but they did not take advantage of all their chances, They gave up 13 turnovers, but they also forced 14 from the Ducks. They had several chances to take the lead and came up short.
Oregon finished the regular season 23-8, and currently in 3rd place with a 13-5 conference mark, after their 5th win in a row. The Ducks will bubble up to the 2nd seed in next week's Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas if Utah stumbles in either of their games at the Washington schools this weekend.
Oregon St. dropped to 17-13, and their 6th loss in the last 7 games left them 1 win short of a .500 conference campaign. The 8-10 record is still a high water mark in recent years, and the Beavers currently sit in 6th place in the Pac-12. They can't climb any higher, but could slip to the 7 or 8 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament depending on how Arizona St. and California do this weekend.
The walk-on decision was a great call by Tinkle also. The 5 walk-ons have been a part of the team all year and deserve some recognition for all of their hard work. Also this was senior night, and this was likely the last home game for any of them as the team will have a full team. In essence they were seniors for this team. This was their final chance to play at home and it was deserving for them to be a part of the most meaningful game of the year. This was a wonderful move by Tinkle, and I'm proud that he is coaching this basketball team.