It was chemistry and highlight plays in spurts with still plenty to work on before the games start counting for real.
Oregon State had little trouble with Pacific in a 91-69 season-opening men's basketball exhibition win Friday night at Gill Coliseum.
It was first-game nerves, an undermanned and outsized opponent that wasn’t intimidated and a subpar defensive effort that stood out to coach Wayne Tinkle and his players in the end.
“But as long as I’ve been doing this, I don’t remember too many games where you’re playing the way you should this early,” Tinkle said.
He also recognized his players “did some good things” and credited the NCAA Division III Boxers from Forest Grove for hanging in the game. The biggest positive, he said, was that he got everyone in and his team came out of the contest without any more injuries.
Stevie Thompson had a solid all-around game from start to finish. The junior guard had 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including three first-half 3-pointers, to go with nine rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Tres Tinkle made his return to the playing floor about 11 months after breaking his wrist on Ralph Miller Court.
He had 15 points and 10 boards. Drew Eubanks and Ethan Thompson had 13 points and six rebounds apiece. Eubanks added three blocks.
The Beavers, who gave up 17 offensive rebounds and saw Pacific shoot 12 of 25 on 3-pointers, have a week to figure it out. OSU opens the regular season next Friday at home against Southern Utah.
“The main things we’re going to have to work on looking forward, and we’re going to have to change it quickly, are aggression on the defensive end, working on defensive rebounding and mainly just aggression overall,” Stevie Thompson said.
No one, veteran or rookie, could escape the jitters expected in the first game of the season with fans in the stands.
Tres Tinkle whizzed a behind-the-back pass out of bounds. Gligorije Rakocevic tossed a ball where he thought a teammate was supposed to be. There wasn’t.
Ethan Thompson, a highly touted freshman, couldn’t handle a perfect lob from brother Stevie for a two-handed flush that might have brought some to their feet. He was also called for traveling, assessed a delay of game after a made basket and got a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
The five freshmen had good and bad moments, their coach said. He saw the nerves and lost stares, times when they were afraid to make mistakes and appeared robotic.
But they also showed flashes of what some more molding and time with their new team could produce.
“Zach (Reichle) had a couple good drives. Ethan hit a 3 that got us going a little bit, in the second half made a nice move to the bucket, made some nice plays,” coach Tinkle said.
The Beavers seemed to lose their defensive intensity when the starters — Tinkle, Eubanks, the Thompsons and Kendal Manuel — came out about seven minutes into the game.
The Boxers gained life and cut a 21-point deficit to 16 at halftime. The rotation wasn’t as deep after the break.
“You’ve got to teach those lessons,” coach Tinkle said.
At times, the Boxers were just as happy to shoot 3-pointers as they were for shots inside the arc. Midway through the second half, Pacific had 10 3-point field goals and nine from closer.
The Beavers struggled at times in their defensive rotations, leaving the Boxers with wide-open looks from outside.
Brevin Brown led Pacific with 20 points, including 6 of 9 on 3-pointers. No teammate had more than six points.
“What I liked most was the first half,” Tres Tinkle said. “We had some nerves. I think we were excited to play, but there’s not a lot of super positives we can look on, like coach said. We gave up way too many open 3s with our hands down. Soft with the ball coming down with rebounds.”
JaQuori McLaughlin sat out the first half via coach’s decision, Wayne Tinkle said. But the sophomore guard started the second half. He had two points and a steal in 13 minutes.