For the first time in five years, the Oregon State Beavers are headed to the NCAA Tournament. For the first time ever, the team has won the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament. The Beavers fought a tough, tenacious game against the 23rd ranked Colorado Buffaloes that went down to the wire, and after 40 minutes the Beavers emerged victorious, winning 70-68.
Oregon State led for most of the game, but the Buffaloes were never far behind. In the first half, the Beavers hit six threes to grab an early lead, but some costly turnovers from Oregon State let Colorado close the gap before halftime. The Beavers led by five at the break, 33-28, but the Buffs seemed to have momentum. Colorado hadn’t hit any of their threes in the first half, and their free throw shooting was poor. If the Buffaloes could ride their momentum and get their act together, it looked like they’d be able to take control of the game.
Colorado did get its act together, but it wasn’t enough. The Buffaloes started hitting their threes and their free throw shooting was better, but an absolutely heroic second half performance from Jarrod Lucas and another strong defensive effort from Warith Alatishe kept the Beavers just in front. Colorado would get close, but a huge three from Lucas or a driving layup from Alatishe would keep the Beavers going.
Colorado had one last shot. After an Alatishe layup put the Beavers up five with a minute left, McKinley Wright was fouled and made his first free throw. The second bounced off the rim, but Jabari Walker grabbed the rebound and was fouled going up. Walker hit 1-of-2, and the Buffs were within one score with 30 seconds left. On the next Beaver possession, Jarod Lucas was fouled and his shots to get the Beavers back to five up. That was followed by a three from McKinley Wright, and the lead was back to just two. Five seconds to go.
The Beavers got the ball to Lucas on the next possession, and was immediately fouled and hit one of his free throws. The Buffs advanced the ball up the court, and Wright was fouled by Gianni Hunt. Wright hit both of his shots, and the Beaver lead was down to one with two seconds left.
This time, Oregon State got the ball to Roman Silva, who hit 1-of-his-2 shots after being fouled. Colorado had one final shot, and got the ball to their best shooter, McKinley Wright. Wright got to half court and took the shot.
For his performance tonight and all throughout the postseason, Warith Alatishe was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Pac-12 Tournament. In the championship final he finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Maurice Calloo led the team in scoring, and drove the Beavers offense for much of the first half. He finished with 15 points, three rebounds and an assist. Jarod Lucas scored 14 points, all in the second half when he put in a dominant performance, in addition to three assists and two rebounds. Gianni Hunt rounded out the top scorers with 10 points, two rebounds, and two assists.
We’ll find out exactly where the Beavers end up in the tournament field tomorrow, during CBS’s Selection Sunday reveal. Coverage will begin at 3 PM PT. But don’t worry about that now. That’s a tomorrow problem. For now, the Beavers are going dancing. Soak it in.