Beavers stay in the hunt for postseason play

Oregon State held off a furious second half rally to beat the Arizona State Sun Devils 68-61 to climb to 4-9 in the Pac-10. The game puts the Beavers a half game out of the eighth spot in the conference after USC and Washington State both lost their games tonight to drop to 5-9.

David Lucas had his third double-double of the season tonight with 20 points and 12 rebounds, both team-highs.

“You coach guys all throughout the season about decision making and what to do and you try to give a few simple things to execute and then they’ve got to make plays,” Oregon State head coach Jay John said. “Late in the game David made some big shots.”

Chris Stephens dropped in all of his 15 points in the second half, scoring his first nine on a trio of three-point field goals, the last gave the Beavers a 17 point lead with 12:43 to play in the game.

“Obviously Chris came out ready to go. Without his threes in the second half, we don’t win the game,” said John.

With those shots Stephens moves into second place all-time at Oregon State for three-pointers made in a season with 62. Gary Payton set the record in 1989 with 82.

One of the main keys to the game was OSU’s ability to hold ASU’s star forward Ike Diogu to just two points in the first half and not allow him to hit a shot from the field until 13 minutes remained in the game. Diogu did finish with 18, proving that even on an off night he is still a threat.

“We were just playing good D,” said junior forward David Lucas. “Kyle (Jeffers) and Jim Hanchett were playing awesome defense and we were doubling him (Diogu) and he wasn’t getting the ball off and we got a lot of stops.”

Freshman, Kevin Kruger led the Sun Devils with 20 points on the night, all of which he scored after halftime. The Marietta, GA native opened the second half by scoring ASU’s first 10 points.

After a Lucas bucket made the score 51-34 with 8:04 to play the Sun Devils stepped up and went on a 16-0 run in the next two minutes 58 seconds to make it a one point affair at 51-50 with 5:06 on the clock. The run was capped off by Kruger’s fourth and final three of the contest.

The game really was a tail of two halves. When the buzzer sounded to end the first half, the Beavers led 28-13. The Sun Devils had 12 turnovers, one less than the number of points they had at the time. The second half saw more scoring by both teams, but especially ASU. The Sun Devils scored 48 in the second as Diogu and Kruger combined for 36 in the half. OSU had 40 points of their own in the second stanza on the strength of hitting 17-of-18 free throws down the stretch to preserve a seven-point victory.

“Before we were playing not to lose, this time we were playing to win. We were determined to get buckets and stops,” said Lucas.

Kyle Jeffers had a strong game for the Beavers as he hit both of his shots from the field and both from the charity stripe to tally six points. He also had six rebounds, an assist, a block, and a steal in only 13 minutes.

Kenny Hooks gave the Beavers energy off the bench in the first half with four points and three rebounds in only six minutes of playing time. He tipped in a Lucas miss with four seconds remaining in the first 20 minutes to give the Beavers their 15-point halftime lead.

J.S. Nash added 11 points while hitting 7-of-8 shots from the free throw line. He also had three steals. Sophomore point guard Lamar Hurd dished out four assists to lead the team and also added two steals of his own.

Jim Hanchett also contributed with seven rebounds and three steals, while Angelo Tsagarakis had seven points and three assists.

“We got some big rebounds, we hit free throws down the stretch, 17-of-18 in the second half, so the guys did the necessary things necessary to win,” John said.

Oregon State will host the 13th ranked Arizona Wildcats on Saturday at 7 P.M. Arizona is coming off a 100-87 win in Eugene over the Ducks. Salim Stoudamire poured in 37 to lead the way for the Wildcats.

NOTE: At halftime Beaver Dam member Alexander Snowden narrowly missed a half court shot for $10,000. Also, at halftime the OSU football team was introduced to the crowd of 6,023 with Las Vegas Bowl trophy in hand.

Jake Schubert can be reached at

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