After 10 straight road losses in Pac-12 play, the Oregon State men’s basketball team finally found a winning formula in a win at Stanford this past weekend. However, the Beavers couldn’t sustain the momentum yesterday as they dropped a game to California. However, if OSU can win its next game, it may find itself closer to an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 1990.
With a 15-9 record overall, the Beavers are in eighth place among Pac-12 teams with a 6-7 conference mark. With a win this next Saturday in Eugene against the rival Oregon Ducks—currently ranked No. 16, despite a loss to the Beavers way back in early January—Oregon State will move to .500 in conference and give itself a great chance to make a dent in the league tournament.
It really does make the rivalry game a must-win scenario for the Beavers, even with four more Pac-12 games to follow before the conference championship. Oregon State beat Oregon at home to kick off the league schedule, and it would love a sweep of the Ducks.
The Stanford win was fueled by 19 points from Tres Tinkle and 14 points from Gary Payton II. The Beavers held the Cardinal to just 37 percent shooting on the day and forced 16 turnovers while stealing the ball eight times. Oregon State turned a four-point halftime lead into a dominant win with a strong second-half effort.
“We challenged our guys to turn it around,” Oregon State Head Coach Wayne Tinkle told the press after win at Maples Pavilion. “We’ve struggled on the road. I said, ‘We can start tonight.’ This would be a great time to do that and start not a revolution, but maybe the evolution of our team on the road.”
However, the Golden Bears proved to be too much for the Beavers on Sunday. Four different OSU players scored in double digits, led by Tinkle’s 22 points, but Cal out-rebounded the Beavers by 10 boards and never let up after taking a 12-point halftime lead. Once again, Oregon State struggled at the free-throw line, too, missing 10 shots from the charity stripe.
“I’m a little too disappointed in the lack of effort,” Tinkle noted postgame. “For whatever reason, we weren’t ready for a fight, and they were. We were just soft defensively.”
Despite the loss to Cal, the Beavers are situated at No. 35 in the latest RPI rankings. Generally, that’s a good place to be for an at-large berth to the Big Dance, but it’s possible the selection committee could ignore that if Oregon State can’t finish at .500 in conference play. With five to play, obviously the Beavers need three wins in those five games.
CBS currently has Oregon State as a No. 8 seed in the tourney, while ESPN has the Beavers as the eighth team waiting in line to get in. A win over the ranked Ducks would certainly boost the profile of Oregon State’s season and almost guarantee a .500 finish in conference. Hence, the huge importance Saturday’s game will play in determining the Beavers’ NCAA fate.