Whether it was a lightbulb turning on or his players taking their efforts to a higher level, Wayne Tinkle saw something different from his team Friday night.
Excited for the start of Pac-12 Conference play, Oregon State rebounded from a poor defensive effort at Kent State eight days earlier and enforced its defensive pressure on Colorado in a 76-57 win at Gill Coliseum.
Tinkle, the Beavers coach, said he would watch game film and likely see that the Buffaloes missed shots they normally make.
“But we were aggressive, we were flying around and we finally, I thought, made the opponent adjust to what we were doing. Then offensively it carried over,” Tinkle said.
Stevie Thompson scored 22 of his game-high 24 points in the second half as the Beavers (9-4, 1-0) scored 17 points off 10 Buffaloes (8-5, 0-1) turnovers after halftime.
Filling the stat sheet, Tres Tinkle added 23 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Ethan Thompson did the same with 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.
OSU big man Drew Eubanks was limited to 28 minutes due to foul trouble. But his line included seven points, nine boards and a season-high six blocks, one off his single-game school record shared with Gary Payton II.
Tyler Bey had 14 points for Colorado. Freshman guard McKinley Wright IV, the Buffaloes’ leading scorer at 17 points per game, had seven points on 3-of-14 shooting, along with six rebounds and six assists.
OSU used a 23-8 run in a little more than seven minutes in the second half to lead by 23.
Stevie Thompson, whose five 3-pointers tied a career-high for the junior guard, said it was defensive energy that created the separation.
“I think the main part of it is we were being much more active in our zone and when we were in man to man,” he said. “We got a lot of deflections and we were really in our help gaps and cutting the ball off on their drives.”
The Beavers quickly pushed their nine-point halftime lead to 12 on a Stevie Thompson 3-pointer.
OSU otherwise had problems getting the ball in the basket in the opening minutes. But the Beavers were playing solid defense, and that allowed them to hold a cushion.
Colorado got no closer than eight before Oregon State got going again.
The Beavers got a conventional three-point play from Tres Tinkle in the middle of a 7-0 run to lead by 15.
With the shot clock winding down, Tinkle drove the baseline, drew the foul and finished at the basket before hitting the free throw.
A Stevie Thompson 3-pointer and Ethan Thompson jumper later pushed the OSU margin to the biggest of the game at 18. A Stevie Thompson transition basket with 9:37 left made it 60-37.
Colorado got no closer than 16 the rest of the way.
“I think we were all amped up about starting the Pac-12,” Ethan Thompson said of his team’s defensive effort.
Before taking the court before the game, OSU players talked about protecting Gill, “and defensively that’s how we do it, Thompson added. “Just keep getting stops and that led to easy transitions.”
Oregon State began and finished the first half with blurs of offense and not much to show in between.
OSU showed some rare opening-game energy to get off to a fast start.
The Beavers had dunks on their first three made baskets while forcing turnovers on the other end on their way to an 8-0 lead.
Colorado answered back with a 7-0 run, including 3-pointers by George King and McKinley Wright. OSU came back with eight in a row to lead 15-7.
But that’s where the Beavers’ offense stalled, as they made just two of their next 11 shots and scored only seven points in a stretch of more than 11 minutes.
The Buffaloes had their own offensive struggles but worked their way back to a tie and then took their first lead at 23-22 on a Dominique Collier free throw with 2:03 left in the half.
Eubanks went to the bench with his second foul with 3:31 in the half. But that didn’t slow down the Beavers.
Sparked by Ethan Thompson and Tres Tinkle, Oregon State found its offense again in the closing minutes of the half.
The Beavers got out in transition and finished the half on a 10-0 run — with five points apiece from Ethan Thompson and Tinkle — to lead 32-23 at the break.
Tinkle had 14 points at halftime and Ethan Thompson 10 points and six rebounds.
Oregon State played its second straight game without junior center Gligorije Rakocevic, who has a right calf muscle injury. He is doubtful for Sunday’s home game against Utah.
Sophomore guard Kendal Manuel missed the game with a groin injury but is likely to play Sunday, coach Tinkle said.