Beavs secure winning record
Oregon State shot better from the field than the Cardinal (46.7% vs. 40.2%). The Beavs won the battle of the boards by a considerable margin (43-33), even off of the offensive glass (17-16). David Lucas had another double-double, Nick DeWitz had some beautiful dunks, Jason Fontenet was having a hot night, and five Beavers were in double figures for points. Sasa Cuic was back to his old scoring ways. Even Kyle Jeffers displayed another night of exquisite post play. The Beavers never trailed, and the game was at home.
Two of the seven Cardinal players that saw the court fouled out. They shot 26.3% from three-point land, and at one point had made just one out of 1 out of 11 from long-range. Only one Farm boy shot better than 50%, although he only attempted six shots. To top it off, Stanford's players gave up the ball 12 times on turnovers.
Ordinarily this means an easy Beaver win – especially at Gill.
But Stanford kept fighting and scrapping, and Chris Hernandez put the team on his back to almost pull off a monster upset. But if only one column in the box score matters, so does only one word in that last sentence: ALMOST.
Despite massive heart attacks suffered by the 6,568 in attendance, Oregon State beat the Cardinal, snapping an 11-game losing streak and propelling themselves into the upper echelon of the Pac with just three games to go.
If my stream of words seems to be somewhat distracted, it is; I'm currently petitioning to get the Pac-10 Tournament moved to Corvallis.
Oregon State started Wednesday night's game like they did Sunday night's - with a three-pointer. The good news is that Salim Stoudamire was in Arizona. The bad news is that no matter how big of a lead the Beavers built up, the Cardinal always seemed to be breaking it down.
Down 8-2, Stanford roared back to within a couple of points. Down double digits in the first half, Stanford whittled it to nine with a last-second shot before the break. Down nine at half, Stanford came out shooting to get within one. Down nine with three minutes to play, Stanford ended the game with a three-pointer to bring the game within one point.
OSU's win came in large part to the play of the Unusual Suspects. Bench play from Jeffers, Cuic and Nash put 32 points on the board for Big Orange. Moreover, it gave Lucas and DeWitz a chance to sit on the bench and rest, resulting in improved production as the game went on. Lucas scored most of his 21 points in the second half, including two critical shots that kept it a two-possession game.
The cause of the closeness of the contest? FREE THROWS.
Oregon State wasn't bad, per se. They just chose to suck at inopportune times. With a dwindling lead, the best that most of the Beavs seemed to be able to do was hit half of their chances from the charity stripe.
Conversely, Stanford missed four free throws...as a team...for the game...out of 24.
But in the end, the bench play and clutch plays by the experienced leaders of Oregon State led the Beavers to a victory over a very good Stanford team that's solidly third-place in the Pac. Chris Hernandez played like a man on fire, but he couldn't overcome the team effort of Oregon State.
The good news for Chris is that his Saturday night game should be much easier.
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