Oregon State certainly slowed down Arizona on Thursday night.
But in the end it wasn’t enough, as the Beavers missed some crucial shots late in regulation and the 14th-ranked Wildcats controlled the overtime period for a 75-65 Pac-12 win.
OSU (13-14, 5-10) wanted to hold Arizona (22-6, 12-3) to 27 second-half points — 10 fewer than the visitors had in the first — and it did. The Wildcats scored 24 in the second 20-minute period.
That allowed the Beavers to get back in the game after falling behind by 12 in the first half and eventually take a lead.
It was the third time in four games that Oregon State trailed by double digits and came back to at least tie.
“Our guys get to a point where they know when it’s a little bit of desperation time and get back on track for what we’re supposed to do,” Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle said. “Sometimes when it starts to go good, we get away from that and that’s where we get into a little bit of trouble.”
OSU is trying to turn the attention away from another demoralizing loss and will instead focus on the effort and toughness it took to get back in the game with the conference’s top team as it prepares for Saturday’s regular-season home finale against Arizona State.
The Sun Devils (19-8, 7-8) are coming off a 75-68 loss at Oregon in which leading scorer Tra Holder was held scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting. The senior guard went into the game averaging 19.3 points for the season and 17.6 in Pac-12 contests.
Mixed results down low
The Beavers had their hands full with Arizona’s two 7-footers, Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.
Ayton, a freshman and leading candidate for conference player of the year, started slowly offensively but had 15 of his team-high 19 points after halftime. Ristic, a senior, had 10 points in the first half and four in the second.
“We were fighting. There were times that we kind of caved in,” coach Tinkle said. “(Ayton)’s a hell of a player. Then Ben (Kone) gave us some good minutes, got physical with him. We brought weakside help like we were supposed to a time or two.”
But there were also times, the coach points out, that they let the Wildcats’ big guys back their way into the basket.
“They’re good players and they’re 7-footers and when they get the thing in front of the rim they’re going to score it,” he said.
The Beavers tried to pack the paint defensively and make Arizona beat them from outside.
That worked somewhat, as the Wildcats shot 5 of 16 (31.3 percent), below their conference (39.0) and season (39.2) averages.
At 48.2 percent overall, Arizona was held just under its Pac-12 (50.3) and season (51.1) marks.
“A couple defensive rebounds when we needed them at key times or a free throw, or when we’re up two with a minute to go we make one shot and it’s over,” coach Tinkle said. “We did a lot of good things and we’re going to build off of those.”
A sudden spark
Freshman guard Ethan Thompson almost single-handedly shot the Beavers back into the game late in the first half.
His 11 points in the last 4:25 before halftime helped OSU cut its deficit to eight at the break.
Thompson had 20 points, equaling the season high he scored in the opener against Southern Utah. It was also six more than he’s scored in any Pac-12 game. His four 3-pointers also tied a season high.
Climbing the charts
Sophomore forward Tres Tinkle will likely have his name all over the Oregon State record book by the time he’s done.
One all-time list he’s currently climbing is consecutive games in double-digit scoring. Tinkle reached 30 straight contests with his 14 points Thursday night.
He also had six rebounds and six assists. It was the ninth time this season he’s had at least five rebounds and five assists.