Oregon State lost a heart-breaker to the ever-fearsome and mighty Savannah State Tigers in overtime, 93-90.
The Beavers were without starter Cheikh N’diaye due to injury, and Keondre Dew continued his mysterious behind-the-scenes quasi-suspension and missed yet another game. Tres Tinkle sat out yet again with his wrist injury.
Freshman Ben Kone made his debut after missing the first two months of the season rehabbing the knee he injured in high school.
The starters for tonight’s match-up with the Tigers were Stevie Thompson Jr., JaQuori McLaughlin, Kendal Manuel, Matt Dahlen (filling in for Cheikh), and Drew Eubanks. Of note, Kendal Manuel got the start over Ronnie Stacy, making it one of their smallest lineups of the season.
The undersized Tigers opened the game playing a full court trapping press, falling back into a soft 2-3 zone designed to keep the ball out of the paint and daring Oregon State, who has struggled from deep, to shoot. At the five minute media timeout, their strategy had paid off, forcing the Beavers into bad turnovers and taking Drew Eubanks out of the offense entirely.
The pressure forced Wayne Tinkle to call a timeout at the 11-minute mark as the Beavers found themselves down 18-15, in large part due to our inability to hit a shot that isn’t a layup. 9 of our first 15 shots were from 3, and we only made 2 of them. And things never really got much better after that, as the Beavers continued to miss threes and allow Savannah State to score.
Oregon State found themselves in a hole at halftime despite a late run, down 50 to 44. As it turns out, when you shoot 14 threes and only make 3 of them, it’s hard to win. At the half, Kendal Manuel and Drew Eubanks led the team with 10 points apiece. Drew was only a rebound away from having a double-double in the half, or really a triple double if you include him going 1 for 1 on stealing my heart with the two alley-oops he snatched and slammed.
One of the most telling and perhaps terrifying stats to come out of the first half were the bench points scored. Savannah State, a team who’s starters would probably be bench players for most Pac-12 schools, outscored our bench 36 to 11. The lack of depth on the Oregon State roster, both due to injury and youth, is astounding.
Oregon State FINALLY started to hit some threes in the second half. Back to back Stevie and Daine Muller triples put the Beavs back on top briefly, only to be answered by a big Tigers bucket. Most importantly, Ronnie Stacy had his second transition dunk of the season, which is my favorite stat.
Stevie Thompson Jr. put the team on his back in the second half. He made plays on both end of the court, hitting tough buckets when we needed him to most. He finished regulation hitting 6 of 18 for 17 points, with 7 assists and 9 rebounds. But every time Stevie would make a big play, it seemed that Savannah State had an answer. The 6 point halftime deficit ended up being just enough to keep things tied up at the end of regulation despite the Beavs best efforts.
Overtime didn’t go so well. After a Drew Eubanks put-back, Savannah State went on a 7-0 run that the Beavs never overcame.
The Beavers now turn to next weekend’s Dam City Classic at the Moda Center in Portland, where they will play Long Beach State and Portland.