Oregon State's men's basketball players got through fall term finals this past week and will try to pass another test Sunday.
The Beavers travel to St. Louis after going 3-1 in their first four games away from Gill Coliseum this season.
OSU won two of three at a tournament in the Virgin Islands then turned around and won at Long Beach State a few days later.
“Our guys are comfortable now, going out and knowing how we have to play and the discipline from start to finish. So I think those experiences have prepared them,” Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle said, adding that the OSU staff wanted to challenge the team with some true road games in nonconference “It’s great to test yourselves, because it all comes down to winning some games on the road in league. Looking forward to the challenge.”
Senior guard Stevie Thompson said the success away from home should give the team confidence going forward, build momentum and help establish a winning mentality on the road.
OSU will also see if it can take its recent hot shooting into the Central time zone.
The Beavers (6-1) are coming off a 101-77 home win against Missouri State, which was OSU’s best shooting game overall (39 for 64, 60.9 percent) and at the 3-point line (16 of 28, 57.1) of the season.
The team was making just 29.3 percent of its shots going into that contest. Beforehand, the coaching staff preached having the mental toughness to avoid missing a long string in a row and having the confidence to continue shooting the deep balls.
Ethan Thompson and Stevie Thompson made five 3-pointers apiece as the Beavers set a single-game program record with 16.
“I feel like we’re pretty confident right now. We’ve all been seeing the ball go in,” Ethan Thompson said.
The sophomore guard rebounded from a stretch of four straight poor shooting games and has made a combined 15 of 22 field goals (7 of 11 3s) in the last two contests, scoring 18 and 22 points, respectively.
Missouri State’s offensive output left coach Tinkle unhappy about his own team’s defense.
The Bears shot 29 of 59 (49.2 percent) from the floor after five of the Beavers’ first six opponents shot 38.6 percent or less. Tinkle said his team has played consistently on defense “every other but that one.”
“We were holding teams under 40 percent. We did a good job,” he said. “That’s the one game we didn’t do as good a job.”
OSU has also been successful in rebounding, winning that category in six games so far.
St. Louis (6-2) took a 61-56 loss Wednesday at Southern Illinois. Hasahn French had a team-high 13-points and nine rebounds. Last Saturday, the Billikens defeated visiting Butler 64-52 behind 18 points and seven rebounds from Javon Bess.
The teams met last year at Portland’s Moda Center, with the Beavers getting a 63-60 victory.
Tres Tinkle had 18 points and eight rebounds for Oregon State, while Goodwin had 22 points and five rebounds for St. Louis. The Beavers got the win despite several key players having food poisoning.
This season, both teams have a defensive field goal percentage under 40 percent.
The Billikens return their top four scorers from a 2017-18 team that went 17-16 overall and 9-9 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Bess, a senior guard, is leading the team this season, averaging 13.2 points and 8.2 rebounds. A defensive-minded player, he had three points, 15 rebounds and six assists against Southern Illinois. Bess is shooting 37.8 percent overall and 34.1 percent on 3-pointers.
Senior guard Tramaine Isabell Jr. is averaging 12.2 points and 4.0 rebounds. He transferred from Drexel, where he averaged 21.0 points a game last season after two years at Missouri. Goodwin, a sophomore guard, is averaging 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
“We think it’s going to be the most talented team that we’ve played to this point,” coach Tinkle said. “They play a slow-down, sort of methodical style at times, they mix up their defenses (man and multiple zone). They really get after you. They’re a physical team, physical and athletic team, much like we saw out of Old Dominion and Missouri. So we feel like we’ve had some tests there.”
Campbell leaving program
Jordan Campbell has asked for his release from the program.
“I am asking for my release due to family issues,” Campbell said. “My family is going through tough times, and I feel that I need to be there to support them. Oregon State has been nothing but good to me. Coach Tinkle, the coaches and my teammates have been very supportive. This is about getting closer to my family.”
“We’re really sorry to see Jordan go,” Wayne Tinkle said. “He was making terrific strides, and we had big plans for him. But the issues he’s dealing with at home take top priority at this point. He feels like he needs to go home and we can’t fault him. We wish him and his family nothing but the best moving forward.”