The early season seems like a climb up a sand dune for the Oregon State men's basketball team.
The Beavers take a few steps forward, then slide back.
It was another slide in the sand on Wednesday evening after a 70-68 nonconference loss to Utah Valley before 3,514 fans in Gill Coliseum.
"It's obvious that we can do (well) for the first 30 minutes but the last 10 minutes something seems to go wrong," OSU senior forward Omari Johnson said. "I don't know what it is yet but we'll fix it."
Like their other three losses, the Beavers (3-3) had chances down the stretch.
Calvin Haynes tied the game at 68-68 with 10 seconds to go but Joe Burton was called for a blocking foul with three seconds left and Jordan Swarbrick hit both free throws. Ahmad Starks got off a long 3 but it banged off the rim.
The Beavers once again lost a lead. They attacked the basket and went on a 10-0 run to finish the first half up 33-26.
It was clear that OSU had a big advantage when playing aggressively on offense but the Beavers did not go back to it consistently in the second half.
"Our success against their defense was taking it to the basket," OSU coach Craig Robinson said. "And we didn't have guys take it to the basket when we needed to."
Robinson said he needs to find the right combination of players to get in a consistent rhythm on offense.
"We have so many more guys that we could put in the game, so we have to have the right combination," he said. "And they have to understand game situations and I've got to make them understand that more."
The Wolverines, however, kept the pressure on OSU. Time and again Isiah Williams drove past defenders and scored. He finished with 22 points.
Jordan Swarbrick scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The Beavers were outrebounded 48-32.
The Beavers also struggled to stop the 3-pointer, which has become an ongoing issue for the team. The Wolverines hit 9 of 21, 5 of 10 in the second half.
Johnson said the Beavers are not disrupting the shooter's aim.
"We're just not getting out. That's it," Johnson said. "We were the best at it, I think, last year in the Pac-10. We're just not running out like we did last year.
"We have to do a better job of getting out and contesting shots."
Robinson said the Beavers need to create a culture of knowing how to play with a lead. He said he's still in the process of figuring out how to get them to that point.
"I think you break through it by winning games," he said. "When you have an issue and then you fix it within the game and then guys start to feel more confident. Up until now I saw some progress in that. Today we took a step back."
Utah Valley State 70, Oregon State 68
UTAH VALLEY STATE (70): Swarbrick 5-12 7-8 20, Robinson 3-5 0-0 6, Aird 4-7 0-2 8, Williams 8-17 3-3 22, Hunsaker 2-8 3-6 9, Deadwiler 0-3 0-0 0, Woods II 0-0 0-0 0, Thompson 1-6 0-0 3, Fannon 0-1 0-0 0, Baker 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 24-60 13-19 70.
OREGON STATE (68): Burton 4-8 2-3 10, Johnson 5-10 0-1 12, Collier 0-1 1-2 1, Cunningham 2-6 2-4 6, Haynes 6-10 3-4 15, McShane 0-0 0-0 0, Starks 4-11 2-2 12, Murphy 0-1 0-0 0, Moreland 0-2 0-2 0, Wallace 3-9 5-8 12. Totals: 24-58 15-26 68.
Halftime: Oregon State 33-26. 3-Point Goals: Utah Valley State 9-21 (Williams 3-7, Swarbrick 3-7, Hunsaker 2-4, Thompson 1-2, Deadwiler 0-1), Oregon State 5-19 (Johnson 2-5, Starks 2-6, Wallace 1-7, Haynes 0-1). Fouled Out: Burton. Rebounds: Utah Valley State 48 (Swarbrick 11), Oregon State 32 (Burton 9). Assists: Utah Valley State 12 (Hunsaker 4), Oregon State 14 (Starks 4). Total Fouls: Utah Valley State 23, Oregon State 18. Att.: 3,514.