This year's final edition of the Civil War in major sports (because, of course, life revolves around each football season) was a sloppy, scrappy, dirty, ugly game. Luckily, while the Ducks were killed by their lack of coordination (21 turnovers for the boys down the road), the Beavers seemed to thrive on it.
Never did the game swing more than a few points in either team's favor. Demonstrating the typical intense competition of the rivalry, each team would take a marginal lead for a few minutes, and then the other team would roar back and take the lead just to see it slip away again. OSU went into the locker room at the half up four, after David Lucas missed an imprudent fade-away jumper with 17 seconds left and no shot clock, only to have the Ducks squander the opportunity by holding the ball up top until time ran out, forcing a last-ditch three try that ultimately missed.
In the second half, Oregon appeared to be largely in control, finally draining a few threes and forcing some Beaver turnovers. Their own inability to hold the ball would prove costly, however. Although they led with 9:50 left after an Aaron Brooks three, and tied the game several times with the clock under five minutes, turnovers enabled OSU to take a seven-point lead off of free throws by Lucas and Chris Stephens, and an electrifying three-pointer by DeWitz that sealed the deal.
Even when they were offered one last glimmer of hope, Oregon failed to capitalize. Down by four with under a minute left, Oregon's Chamberlain Oguchi went after a loose ball, grabbed it, and prepared to shoot a three…with his foot out of bounds. Although the game wasn't officially put away until J.S. Nash sunk one of two free throws to put the Beavs up four with two seconds left, Beaver fans brought out the keys and started jingling.
One blocked prayer later, the student section was on the court, and David Lucas proceeded to hug seemingly everyone in sight.
Oregon State emerged victorious largely because they fixed their mistakes from the first meeting between the teams this year. Where they were out-rebounded by 24 (and let's face it, flat out humiliated) before, they managed to even the race substantially this time. Although the box score will show the total rebounds being in the Ducks' favor, Oregon State won the battle of the glass on the offensive side of the ball, often giving themselves critical second chances.
The main reason for Oregon's overall statistical dominance in the category actually had nothing to do with performance – OSU just shot the ball a heck of a lot more. When you have 14 less turnovers than your opponent, you tend to get a lot more chances to score, and thus, chances to miss.
Additionally, the Beavs finally managed to defeat the dreaded 2-3 zone that Oregon stymied them with before…somewhat. Although the game was ripe with ill-advised, forced shots, OSU succeeded the same way they have all season. Patient, controlled ball handling opened up passing lanes to DeWitz or Lucas down low, resulting in easy points on the defensively-challenged Ian Crosswhite. It also resulted in the Beaver Behemoths leading Oregon State in scoring and boards, netting 22 points and 9 rebounds each.
However, Beaver fans, make no mistake about it. Oregon has a very good basketball team – one that will continue to terrify Pac-10 opponents in the years to come. They are a team of sharpshooters, and on their home court, with the right level of momentum, should be able to annihilate even the toughest of opponents. There is not one player on that team who can't play.
That, however, is what makes THIS Beaver victory so sweet. After being humiliated in Eugene, the Beavers displayed one simple fact in front of the 10,000+ in attendance on Saturday night: despite shooting a stone-cold 40.3% from the field, despite being out-rebounded and despite giving up big plays and runs to the Eugenians, this Beaver team can win big games at home.
They have a good shot at making the Pac-10 tournament if they can take care
of business at home and maybe even win a game or two on the road. They are
tough, scrappy and constantly improving.
This ain't your daddy's Beaver team. Yet.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
- In the post-game show, Mike Parker reported that David Lucas may have
re-injured his right big toe. Beaver fans will remember that it was the
off-season surgery on the toe that caused the Tigard native to be out of
uniform until the December 28 game against Sacramento State.
- In post-game interviews, Nick DeWitz said that there was a
"game-within-a-game" (as Parker put it) with all-world Duck freshman Malik Hairston. Hairston reportedly told DeWitz that he wouldn't be getting
anything done against the Wonder Boy. It's important to note that Hairston's
20 points, while impressive, ended up being less than DeWitz's 22.
- The win, coupled with last year's Civil War victory at Gill, signifies
the first time that Oregon State has won a contest with the Ducks for two
consecutive years since 1993-1994. With it, OSU has also equaled their win
total from last year at 12 wins. The Beavers need to win three of their
final eight games to secure their first winning record since 1990 (not
counting the Pac-10 tournament or any post-season play).
- Oregon State is now 8-1 at home this season. OSU has lost to all of the
teams that will visit Gill, and beaten every team except Arizona that they
must visit on the road.
- Oregon State will play Washington State on Thursday night at 5:30 PM. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Northwest.