The Beavers rolled to 2-0 in the second and final home game of the opening weekend for the 2016-17 season in front of a crowd of what must have been at least 75 people or possibly more.
UTSA, coming off a tough 3-point loss to 2016 tournament-appearing Fresno State, proved unable to overcome the Omnipotent Tres Tinkle, who finished with an unreal 26 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Stephen Thompson Jr. did not play due to a foot injury, and Kendal Manuel got the start in his place. Other starters remained the same, with Drew Eubanks and Cheikh N’Diaye down-low, Tres Tinkle playing the swingman, and Ronnie Stacy and Kendal in the backcourt.
The Beavers got off to another slow, sloppy start, with 3 turnovers on their first 5 possessions. JaQuori McLaughlin was the first player off the bench for the second game in a row, quickly replacing Kendal Manuel. Kendal failed to make an appearance for the rest of the half. Keondre Dew also came off the bench early for his first action as a Beaver after not playing in the exhibition game or the game against Prairie View A&M. Tres picked right up where he left off Friday night, scoring 5 of the Beavers first 7 points. One of his buckets came off of a crossover that left his defender stumbling all the way to Albany.
The poor shooting performance of Friday continued into the first ten minutes of the game, the Beavs shooting just 30% from the field, going 0-3 from beyond the arc. It was clear that Stevie Thompson Jr. spreading the floor with his shooting threat was missed, with the team taking many contested shots within 10 feet, deep in the shot clock. 6 early turnovers also did the Beavers no favors on offense.
Oregon State dug themselves into a hole by the 8-minute media timeout, down 20-14 and still shooting 30%. JaQuori came up with a huge block on a fast break, waking up the sleeping Beavers at long last. This led to Matty (Ice) Dahlen, who has been officially on the team all of two weeks, drawing a charge and a newfound intensity that the team had been lacking all half. Daine Muller hit his corner three, as Daine Muller always does and always will, and the Beavers exchanged shots with the Roadrunners but ultimately ended the half down by 8, 37-29. JaQuori once again scored with time winding down in the half, an early trend in the season.
The Beavers went into halftime losing the battle on the boards, our Achilles heal last season. I can’t confirm or deny that Wayne took his jacket off at halftime in the locker room, but I can imagine he probably did. And the 19-18 rebounding margin against a smaller team probably had something to do with it. Coach Tinkle mentioned a lack of focus in his presser after the Prairie View game, both in practice and at the start of the game. He spent the entire first half of this game yelling “get physical,” trying to get the Beavers heads into the game by getting them more involved on the court. Oregon State got out-hustled in the first half, something no coach ever wants to see. An obvious lack of aggression: 2 first half points off the fast break.
Whatever Wayne said or took off in the locker room, it worked. The Beavers came out of the locker room playing aggressive for the first time all game, attacking the basket and getting layups and putting UTSA in foul trouble early. JaQuori and Drew came out, to steal a term from Wayne, “playing like their heads were on fire,” but quickly picked up their 3rd fouls. The Beavers took their first lead in a long time following a Tres Tinkle 3 and continued to exchange baskets with the Roadrunners until finally starting to pull away.
Weird line-up that worked? Kendal Manuel, Tres Tinkle, Keondre Dew, Daine Muller, and Matty Ice (who again, wasn’t on the team two weeks ago. He doesn’t even have a name on his jersey). Following the Stacy/Eubanks/McLaughlin foul trouble (all had 3), this lovable, rag-tag group of misfits found themselves building up the Beavers first real lead of the night, up to 5 points before Eubanks came back in for Matty.
Keondre Dew missed almost every shot he took, mostly just by taking weird angles off the backboard. It was all touch, which he’ll get back in time. His athleticism and movement around the basket is something the Beavers will need this season.
The Beavs second half lead was owed in part, to FINALLY hitting some threes. Kendal Manuel, Daine Muller, and Tres Tinkle all had at least one. Tres had another double-double, dropping 26 points and snagging 12 rebounds. He did it all tonight, so much so that at times in the first half it felt like the offense just stood around watching him shoot way too much.
Tres is a natural scorer. Basically, if he has 2 or less guys between him and the basket, he’s going to find a way to get a shot up. And he hits his free throws. Tres went 11-16 from the line tonight. Tres became visibly exhausted down the stretch and took several plays off on offense. The minutes added up between the Friday night game and this afternoon, and it showed. Moving forward, the Beavs can only ask so much from Tres and expect to win.
UTSA came within 3 with 1:44 left on the clock when Keondre Dew jumped up and stole an errant pass and got fouled. He hit 1-2 free throws, putting the Beavs up by 4. TRES THE TRUTH TINKLE blocked not one, but TWO shots on the next possession, giving the Beavers back the ball and the lead.
JaQuori came down, finished an and-1 lay-in, and the Beavers held onto the lead thanks to a clutch free throw from Matty Ice. He iced the game. Had ice in his veins. The icing on the cake.
The Beavers continue their home stand on Wednesday night against 1-0 Lamar at Gill.