For the second game in a row, Oregon State leaned on a pair of veterans for leadership with the team in need of a spark.
With big man Drew Eubanks sidelined with foul trouble, Stevie Thompson and Tres Tinkle teamed up to keep the Beavers going offensively through the first 10 minutes of the second half.
A combined effort by all after halftime Tuesday night gave Oregon State a 74-62 win against Eastern Kentucky at Gill Coliseum.
Thompson, a junior guard, and Tinkle, a redshirt sophomore forward, scored 31 of the Beavers’ 43 points after the break.
“I think everybody did a good job of stepping up when (Eubanks) got in foul trouble in there,” said Thompson, who had season highs with 26 points and seven assists. “(Gligorije Rakocevic) stepped in and played well for us. I think it was a team effort when he went down to keep it going and keep our rhythm going on offense.”
Tinkle added 21 points — 17 after halftime — along with eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. Eubanks had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists.
Three days earlier, Thompson and Tinkle each made big plays down the stretch to help the Beavers hold on for an 89-84 home win against Loyola Marymount.
Tuesday, they did it again, but started much earlier than the closing minutes.
Eubanks picked up his third foul in the first minute of the second half and soon after went to the bench, where he stayed for 10 minutes.
Thompson and Tinkle picked up the offensive load and got the Beavers back in the lead.
They combined for the Beavers’ first 22 points after halftime, helping their team to a 53-45 lead after trailing by four at the break. Tinkle converted a conventional three-point play off an offensive rebound and then found Thompson for a transition basket after a steal.
Tinkle put in an off-handed right hook and later snagged a steal and went the distance for a two-handed dunk.
Thompson added to the run with a 3-pointer — his fourth of the game — and a layin on the next possession.
OSU coach Wayne Tinkle singled out Rakocevic, a 6-foot-11 center, for his play in reserve of Eubanks. Rakocevic had six points, five rebounds and two steals in 19 minutes.
“Obviously we want Drew out there. But we know moving forward that (Rakocevic) and Drew can play together. They did the second half of league last year,” the coach said. “The problem is, you saw they went four guards, and we played a lot of teams that go four guards. It’s been tough for ‘G’ to get the minutes that he’s going to get once we get down the road. But he has really hung in there.”
OSU freshman Zach Reichle played his most impact minutes of the season.
He finished a layin off a Rakocevic assist and later made two free throws to give the Beavers a 59-54 lead.
Tinkle added a 3-pointer and Thompson found Seth Berger for a layin, and Oregon State had its biggest advantage of the game at 10 with 5:14 left.
The double-digit lead kept the Beavers from needing any last-minute heroics.
Eastern Kentucky got no closer than eight from there. Eubanks provided some insurance with two dunks on lobs from Thompson in the closing minutes.
Reichle, a freshman guard, had five points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal in 10 minutes.
“We needed his grit and his hustle,” coach Tinkle said, noting a diving play on the floor early during Reichle’s time on the floor. “He hits a big 3 when we’re stuck in mud a little. He’s a gritty guy.”
Eastern Kentucky leading scorer Nick Mayo led the Colonels (4-5) with 11 points at halftime but scored just four after the break. He played all 40 minutes.
Helping slow down Mayo was Seth Berger, a grad transfer forward who played 23 minutes, besting his previous season-high by 10. He had four points and three rebounds.
“His defense the second half on Mayo was unbelievable along with ‘G’ and Drew and Tres for a little bit,” coach Tinkle said.
The victory gave the Beavers their third straight win for the first time since February 2016. That stretch game against Pac-12 foes Utah, Colorado and Stanford.
“We’re making good progress right now,” Thompson said. “The wins haven’t been pretty but we’ll take them. It feels good and gives us confidence moving forward getting a few wins in a row. Just looking to build on that moving on.”
Runs back and forth filled the first half.
Two Thompson 3-pointers and a couple inside baskets by Eubanks pushed the Beavers out to an 18-9 lead.
OSU suddenly seemed lost on offense, and EKU came back with a 15-2 run, fueled by six points apiece from Mayo and A.J. Youngman, to grab the lead.
The Beavers answered with a 9-2 stretch as Reichle hit a 3-pointer and OSU got two quick transition baskets.
The home team didn’t score in the final 2:55 of the half, and Asante Gist made a trio of 3-pointers to give the Colonels a 35-31 lead at the break.
Eastern Kentucky held a 16-4 lead on points off turnovers.
The Beavers had eight turnovers and the Colonels five in the first half. Both teams finished with 12.