Furious Beaver rally falls short

THERE WILL BE days like this. Days where the Oregon State men's basketball team comes tantalizingly close to pulling off the huge upset, only to fall short. The Beavs, down 13 points at one point in the second half, stormed back to tie the game 53-53 with 1:41 left on the clock but fell to Arizona when Roeland Schaftenaar's three ball to force overtime rimmed out.

Some will say Oregon State had their chances and lament the missed opportunities. Other will say the Beavs did an awful lot of good things in coming back to nearly claim the victory.

Both will be right.

The Beavs played a solid first half, taking the lead 11-10 with 10 minutes to go. Neither team was filling it up offensively but OSU on the defensive end clearly had Arizona frustrated.

What stood out most from the first half was Oregon State's patience on offense. As Oregon State reclaimed the lead 15-13 Omari Johnson's trey with 7:20 remaining, Oregon State was dictating the pace, making Arizona play the Beavs' game.

Roeland Schaftenaar 's three-ball put OSU up five, he drilled another the next time down the floor to increase the Beavs' lead to eight at 23-15 and Gill was rocking.

But Arizona went on a 6-0 run to cut the Beavers' lead 23-21 at the half.

Arizona came out of the locker room and reasserted themselves -- and it was during this stretch that the Beavs looked like they were being too patient, passing up some open shots in being very deliberate. The result was Arizona quickly jumping out to a 35-28 lead with 15:22 left in the game.

OSU cut it to four on a Calvin Haynes three-ball but things quickly went south from there, the Beavs turning the basketball over, giving up easy points and digging themselves a double-digit deficit.

Another Haynes three-ball ended a 9-0 Arizona run -- but the Beavs were still down by 10 with 11:19 left.

That stretch proved to be decisive. But it took until the clock reached zeros for that to become clear. A steady, smart Oregon State extended run brought the Beavs to within three, 53-50, on Schaftenaar's hook shot with 2:33 remaining.

During that stretch, Oregon State missed a number of open shots. But they were able to keep chipping away because their 1-3-1 zone defense denied Arizona time and time again.

Rickey Claitt drilled a trey with 1:41 to play to knot the score at 53-53 and Gill was now rocking and rolling.

Alas, it was short lived. The pro-Beaver crowd booed lustily when Arizona's Nic Wise hit a runner following what appeared a clear push off with his elbow but no foul was called. But there were plenty of non-calls throughout the game, benefiting both sides. And the Beavs had three more chances that all were off the mark.

Arizona hit 1-2 free throws after a Beaver miss to push the margin to three. OSU with 14.8 ticks let one fly from downtown but Schaftenaar's three was short. Schaftenaar's final desperation three, in-bounded with 0.7 left went deep, deep into the well before kicking out.

Oregon State will lose some of these games this year. They're still learning how to win. But they're going to win some of them, too -- they already have this season. And they are light years away from where they were last year as a basketball team. OSU next hosts ASU on Saturday.

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