Drew Eubanks went to the free-throw line late in Saturday’s game thinking about some of his team’s misses two days early that kept Oregon State from closing out Arizona.
He said it helped him focus and make two to put the Beavers ahead.
Not long after, it was a freshman teammate, Ethan Thompson, who had his own failed opportunities against the Wildcats but closed the door this time.
Thompson’s two foul shots with 11.2 seconds left provided Oregon State the cushion it needed in a 79-75 Pac-12 men’s basketball win against Arizona State at Gill Coliseum.
“I was confident that I knew I could step up and make them,” said Thompson, who grabbed an offensive rebound on a second straight free-throw miss by teammate Tres Tinkle. “I just tried to do my best and focus on making the shot. I’m thankful that I did.”
Thompson’s game-closers saved the Beavers (14-14, 6-10) from another loss in which they had a large lead in the second half. Six weeks earlier in Tempe, Arizona, OSU had a 13-point lead with under 12 minutes remaining, only to see the Sun Devils (19-9, 7-9) come back and win by two.
Saturday, ASU came all the way back from 15 down with less than nine minute left, and still nine with three minutes to go, tying it at 75-all on Tra Holder’s 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining.
Eubanks’ two free throws with 36 seconds left put the Beavers back ahead. ASU’s Kodi Justice missed what would have been the go-ahead 3-pointer, and Tinkle grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
After Tinkle, an 87.1 percent foul shooter, missed both, Thompson found his way to the offensive board.
OSU coach Wayne Tinkle hopes Saturday’s triumph is a “huge shot in the arm” for a team that found a way to make enough plays down the stretch.
He’s also hoping his players take some time to think about the plays that weren’t made and mistakes were costly. Lack of focus has been a huge hurdle on the road for the Beavers, who are winless in seven Pac-12 road games this season and at 21 overall is the longest in the country.
“But we were able to squash it at the end,” the coach said. “Hopefully we can really learn and this can be something that really helps catapult us down the stretch here.”
Oregon State finishes out the regular season on the road, Thursday at Washington and next Saturday at Washington State.
Eubanks had a team-high 16 points, leading five total Beavers in double figures. Tres Tinkle added 15 points, along with eight rebounds and eight assists. The assists tied a career high.
Alfred Hollins had 14 points and a career-high six steals, five in the first half. Stevie Thompson added 13 points and Ethan Thompson 12.
Holder, ASU’s leading scorer, had a game-high 23 points. The senior guard was held without a point Thursday in a loss at Oregon.
The Beavers finished the job against a Sun Devils team looking to solidify its spot in the NCAA tournament. ASU started the season 12-0 but has struggled to find traction on conference play.
“It was big,” Eubanks said of the win. “Like coach said, we’ve been close for a long time now. I feel like we’re even closer now. I’m really proud of the way we knocked down free throws down the stretch.”
The Beavers were 10 of 12 at the line in the final six minutes and 18 of 25 for the game.
Oregon State succeeded in defending its six-point halftime lead early in the second half.
Stevie Thompson had two straight short jumpers to push the advantage to eight. Consecutive baskets by Thompson and Eubanks made it a nine-point game with 14 minutes left.
Later, a Eubanks offensive rebound set up Kendal Manuel’s 3-pointer that gave the Beavers their first double-digit lead at 49-39 with 13:02 remaining.
OSU eventually pushed it to 15, as Hollins’ 3-pointer capped an 8-4 that made it 59-44 with 8:47 to go.
A 10-1 run in a stretch of less than three minutes, with the last four points coming on De’Quon Lake offensive tip-ins, to get back within six.
The Beavers quickly ran it back to 12, sparked by four Hollins free throws.
OSU led 73-64 on a Hollins reverse layin with 2:36 to go before five quick whistles against the Beavers in less than a minute helped ASU even the score.
Holder’s game-tying 3-pointer ended an 11-2 run that covered 94 seconds.
“It’s always interesting with the Beavs,” coach Tinkle said. “I’m really proud of the way they closed it out at the end. But, man, we’ve got to learn. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot when we get those leads. It’s all right. We’re going to focus on the positive plays that we made to pull out the win.”
Prior to the game, the Beavers' last at home in the regular season, seniors Seth Berger and Ronnie Stacy were recognized along with junior Tanner Sanders, a Crescent Valley High grad who has decided to end his athletic career. He graduates this spring.