We had extra basketball tonight at the Gill Coliseum as the Oregon State Beavers, 3-6, took the floor Sunday against the visiting 2-8 Tigers of Savannah State University. Anxious to avenge their recent 66-69 loss against Charlotte University, the Beavers looked to get off to a quick start against a tough and gritty Tiger team that ranks at the very bottom of the nation in total points allowed.
With leading scorer Tres Tinkle out with a wrist injury suffered in late November, several players have answered the call when asked to lead the team. Who would answer the call?
Before they could answer, they struggled on defense to contain the “drive and shoot” game plan that seems to have trickled down from the pros to colleges, and is exemplified most by this Savannah State team – ranked 23rd in the nation, averaging 85.6 points, and 1st in three-point field goals per game with 15.5. A team that lives and dies by the three point is hard to strategize against, because there’s not much you can do if the shots are falling. The tigers used their quick start to take a double-digit lead during the first half, ending with a 50-44 score, outscoring the Beaver bench 34-11. Robert Kelly Jr. led the way for the tigers, scoring 24 on 9-11 shooting, along with 10 rebounds. The hot hands of the Tigers cooled off, allowing the Beavers to get in a groove defensively – settling down, contesting and blocking shots, eventually capturing a lead in the second half.
Drew Eubanks answered the call as the leading man for the Beavers. Dominating the interior on both ends of the floor with ease as the Tigers had no solution for his size and strength, he tallied 23 points on 8-12 shooting, 16 rebounds and 6 blocks. The Tigers implemented a 2-3 zone throughout, forcing the Beavers to take tough jump shots. Ranked 328th in the nation for threes made, the Beavers took 34 shots beyond the arc, only to sink 10 of them. Starters Kendal Manuel, Jaquori McLaughlin and Stephen Thompson Jr. all scored in double digits, but the back and forth battle swayed in favor of the Tigers, as their aggressive style of play kept them in and won the game.
A detrimental loss, not just for the Beavers, now 3-7, but for the Pac-12 as a whole.
Check in Friday, as the Beavers take on the Long Beach State 49ers (2-10) Friday night in Corvallis.