HOOPS: Beavs left searching for answers

THE THREE-POINTER. The Beavs couldn't defend it well enough in the 82-63 loss to Oregon. The Ducks hit a season high 13 treys as Oregon State (9-16, 4-10 Pac-10) lost their fourth straight. And with four games remaining in the regular season, there is now one big question facing the Beavs.

Is there any magic left.

Oregon State has been a streaky team the last few years and this season has been no exception. OSU lost to Seattle U and Texas Southern. And then they beat Arizona and Washington, the only Pac-10 team to do so this year.

But right now, in the wake of the loss to UO, the Beavs would seemingly have trouble beating just about anyone.

Lathen Wallace had 17 points off the bench for the Beavers but no one else scored in double figures. More importantly, that OSU defense of the past couple seasons, that frustrated and diminished opponents -- even when they won -- has gone missing. Oregon shot 50 percent from beyond the arc on Saturday, 46.3 percent overall.

Oregon State authored a familiar script against the Ducks, digging a large hole and then climbing part way out of it. Unable to mount much of an offensive threat in the first half, and after trailing by as many as 18 points, the Beavers closed to 42-29 at the break.

Then they cut it to single digits, pulling to within 48-39 at the 14:06 mark of the second half. That's when the roof caved in, with Oregon drilling three consecutive three-pointers to settle the issue long in advance of the final buzzer.

WHAT'S FRUSTRATING ABOUT it all for Beaver fans is that OSU is better than 9-16, 4-10. The Arizona and UW wins proved that.

But the Beavers have been woeful on the offensive end and consistency in just about any part of their game has been hard to come by.

OREGON STATE, IF they are to end this season on an up-note and/or make a Pac-10 tourney run, will have to get back to the suffocating defense that became a staple, led to some upset wins and gave rise to the thought this team was steadily improving the past couple of seasons.

The good news is that just when OSU has looked like they're all done the past two years, that's when they rise up and suddenly look like world beaters in claiming some W's.

They have four games -- Stanford and Cal at home, Arizona and ASU on the road -- to get their rhythm back before the Pac-10 tournament. A few upset wins heading into the conference tourney would be a welcome sight indeed.


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