(CORVALLIS)—The Oregon State men’s basketball team just saved its season with another miracle finish at home on the Gill Coliseum floor, and there are no words to define what just happened. Trailing by six points with 1:48 left in the game, Beavers freshman Stephen Thompson, Jr. hit a buzzer-beating, three-point shot to give OSU the 82-81 victory over the visiting Washington Huskies.
Despite shooting just 8-for-27 in the second half, there was no hoop was more important for the Beavers than the last one. Oregon State missed 11 free-throw attempts on the night, but the team managed to overcome that ineptitude thanks to Thompson’s second miracle of the season. He previously bailed out the Beavers against Utah on the same floor with three straight free throws in the final seconds.
This was a game the Oregon State men’s basketball team had to have, and at home in front of an angsty crowd, the Beavers were tied with 3:44 left in the game with their best player at the free-throw line. Gary Payton II missed both attempts, however, and the Washington Huskies took advantage to forge ahead on the way to carving out that six-point lead note above.
While Oregon State shot that measly 29.6 percent in the second half, Washington took advantage with 50 percent shooting over the same time frame. The Beavers had no answer for Huskies star Andrew Andrews, who scored 30 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor. However, Andrews’ only missed free throw of the night left the door open for Thompson’s game-winning shot.
Four different OSU players scored in double figures: Drew Eubanks had a double-double effort for the Beavers with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Payton II scored 15 points and snared 10 boards. Thompson, Jr. led the team with 18 points, while Tres Tinkle notched 16 points and seven rebounds himself. The foursome dominated play for Oregon State, and it just was enough to counter the Huskies on this night—barely.
The Beavers are 16-9 now overall, having played one of the toughest schedules in the country. Their 7-8 record in Pac-12 play is hurting them, currently, and the team will now have to beat last-place Washington State at home on Sunday and pull off a SoCal road split next weekend against USC and UCLA to finish at .500 in conference play—very necessary to get them into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990.
Earlier in the game, Oregon State raced out to a 25-14 lead in the first eight-plus minutes, behind a balanced attack on offense and a swarming defensive effort. In fact, the few breakdowns the Beavers suffered on defense resulted in easy scores for the Huskies. Otherwise, the defense was stout. But then Washington went on a 9-0 run, and OSU had itself a game once again.
The halftime score of 49-45 in favor of the home team demonstrated just how defenseless each team became in the latter stages of the first half, however. The second-half pace would slow down a bit, and OSU built an eight-point lead at 68-60 with 9:20 left in the game. However, the Huskies came right back again with a 9-1 run to tie the score. Basically, neither team could really get any permanent separation in the game, as the final score indicates.
It really was that close, but the Beavers survived to give themselves a great chance at a ticket to March Madness.