PORTLAND — Oregon State wrestled away a win Saturday, stringing together just enough plays in a game that went down to the wire.
Offensive rebounds by Stevie Thompson and Drew Eubanks on the same possession proved to be game-changers in the Beavers’ 63-60 victory against Saint Louis in the Dam City Classic at Moda Center.
The Beavers (8-3) were up two with 1:06 remaining when Ethan Thompson missed the second of two free throws. Stevie Thompson, his brother, was the first to get to the ball as it bounced away to the left side.
Ethan Thompson then missed a corner 3-pointer and Eubanks came up with the board.
Fittingly, it was Stevie Thompson finding Eubanks for a layin soon after to put the Beavers ahead by four with 21 seconds left.
“I think it showed a lot of hustle from both of them,” Ethan Thompson said. “Both were smart and didn’t try to force it back up, and pulled it out.”
Saint Louis (5-6) pulled within two on a pair of Davell Roby free throws. But Stevie Thompson made two on the other end with 11.7 seconds to keep the Billikens out of reach in the closing moments.
“Nothing new, but obviously a big-time play,” Tres Tinkle said of Stevie Thompson’s offensive board, then noting the split-second decisions by both rebounders to not go right back up and work for a better shot. “I think that shows maturity. In years past, even this year in a couple losses, we force those up and it goes to a miss and a breakaway for the other team. I think we’re learning our lessons and I think we’re going to try to keep doing that going forward.”
Tres Tinkle had a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds. Eubanks added 12 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Ethan Thompson had 11 points, Kendal Manuel eight and Stevie Thompson seven.
Jordan Goodwin had 22 points and five rebounds for the Billikens.
Saint Louis made the first move in the second half, scoring the first five points.
Ethan Thompson converted a four-point play off a made 3-pointer, as he did in a similar stretch of time four days earlier against Jacksonville State.
But the Billikens negated that with the next four points and later took their biggest lead of the game at nine (41-32) on Goodwin’s 3-pointer.
Saint Louis had seven offensive boards in the first eight minutes after halftime. Coupled with Oregon State’s inability to make a field goal or hit consistently at the free-throw line, the Beavers struggled to get its deficit any lower than five.
That changed midway through the half on Tres Tinkle’s deep two from the corner at the end of the shot clock, followed soon after by Eubanks’ layin.
A Kendal Manuel 3-pointer tied the game and Ben Kone’s two foul shots with 8:23 left finished a 9-2 run and got the Beavers back in the lead at 45-43.
The teams traded the lead — with five ties over the next four-plus minutes — before Oregon State finally took the lead for good at 56-54 on a Eubanks off-handed (lefty) hook with 3:37 to go.
“We weren’t at our best and found a way to win,” OSU coach Wayne Tinkle said. “I’m not an excuse-maker. We were not anything close to 100 percent tonight.”
A team source said four to five players were ill Saturday.
Oregon State won the rebounds, 35-31, led by Tres Tinkle’s eight. Kone brought the Beavers some toughness off the bench, collecting four boards along with two points in seven minutes.
Oregon State would probably rather forget the last 11 minutes of the first half after what was a good start and a double-digit lead.
Kendal Manuel had five straight points and Alfred Hollins a 3-pointer to cap a 12-0 run that gave the Beavers an 18-7 lead.
But whatever momentum had been gathered slowly faded away.
Where the Beavers took advantage of Billiken mistakes the first nine minutes, Saint Louis turned the table for the remainder of the half.
Despite the problems on offense, OSU managed to hold the lead for more than 14 minutes. A Javon Bess layin with 2:59 remaining gave the Billikens the lead for good in the half.
Ronnie Stacy’s layin at the buzzer ended a stretch of more than seven minutes without a field goal for the Beavers, who trailed 29-26 at the break.
OSU didn’t help itself at the free-throw line, shooting 5 of 11. Saint Louis was 4 of 8.
Stacy’s basket came after 10 straight misses by Oregon State, which shot 9 of 26 in the first half. Saint Louis was 12 of 25. The Beavers managed just two second-chance points on eight offensive rebounds.