Angus Brandt felt encouraged by his team’s progress, even after a devastating Pac-12 home loss to California.
A win would have provided the Oregon State men’s basketball team some significant momentum with a weekend sweep of the Bay Area schools.
Instead, the loss, which came after the Beavers gave away a 14-point first-half lead, meant there was no hiding the fact that there was work to be done.
“We really showed some positive things, just a few things here and there that we needed to sharpen up,” said Brandt, OSU’s senior center. “To win (against Oregon on Sunday) and play solid throughout the whole game, it was great, it was good momentum.”
Now it’s a matter of whether the Beavers (10-7, 2-3) can take another step forward, starting with Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game at Washington State (8-10, 1-5) in Pullman.
A win against the Cougars would give OSU three wins in its first six conference games for just the second time in nine years.
The last time the Beavers were 3-3 came in the 2010-11 season, also under current head coach Craig Robinson.
OSU got to 3-3 with a home win against USC but lost seven of its next eight and finished 5-13 in the conference and 11-20 overall.
Sunday versus Oregon (13-4, 1-4), the Beavers took the lead for good at 5-2 on Hallice Cooke’s 3-pointer less than three minutes into the game and never gave it back.
“That was a top-10 team three or four games ago. That says a lot for where this team has come from, because that team was just ranked prior to coming here,” said OSU’s Roberto Nelson.
Now it’s off to the road for five of the next seven.
After Washington State, the Beavers play Saturday at Washington (11-8, 3-3) in Seattle.
“You have to be able to pick up games when you’re on the road,” Robinson said. “Two would be great, one’s good. It starts by playing well like you do at home on the road and putting yourself in position to win.”
OSU has proven it can win at home, so far taking two of three conference games at Gill Coliseum.
After losses at Colorado and Utah earlier this month, the Beavers are 10-37 in conference road games in five-plus seasons under Robinson.
“If we have a good road trip this week and we can pull out one of two or even both that would be huge for us,” Brandt said.
Splitting the two games would keep OSU three games above .500 overall and maintain high hopes for a postseason berth.
Lose both and those hopes would take a serious hit.
Win two and the Beavers are securely in the middle of the Pac-12 standings. Then the season could really get interesting.
“We’ll figure out how good we want to be based on how we play,” Robinson said. “You can’t control the wins and losses, but you can control how you play.”
The coach was asked following Sunday’s win against the Ducks how his team can parlay that upswing into success on the road.
He said his players need to understand that the game doesn’t get easier when you win.
“It’s the hardest thing to get across to young people these days. As you get better, your world gets harder, not easier,” Robinson said. “There’s an inability to understand life gets harder as you go through it, not easier, at this age.
“Now the next team we play is going to take us way more seriously than they would have taken us if we hadn’t won those games. So it gets harder.”