Men: Oregon State 69, Washington State 64
By Michelle Smith
LOS ANGELES - In a thrilling start to the 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament, Oregon State rallied at the end of a nip-and-tuck second half to defeat Washington State 69-64 Wednesday afternoon at the Staples Center.
The Beavers (18-13) move on to face top-seeded Washington on Thursday thanks to 19 points from Devon Collier and 11 second-half points from Eric Moreland.
Jared Cunningham, the Pac-12's scoring leader, struggled with a season-low four points, but his teammates made up for it with a stellar defensive effort down the stretch against the Cougars, who end their season at 15-16.
Oregon State saw a 16-point first-half lead disappear when the Cougars rallied back to take the halftime lead by one.
The two teams played close throughout the final 20 minutes - overall, the game saw 10 ties and eight lead-changes - and Washington State took a 60-58 lead, but Oregon State outscored them 9-1 to take a 67-61 lead on seven free throws and a transition lay-up by Joe Burton with 56 seconds to go.
Burton scored five points in the final three minutes of the game. He finished with 15.
Washington State was held to just seven points over the final seven and a half minutes of the game, missing four of their final five shots down the stretch. The Cougars last field-goal of the game came with 4:05 left on the clock.
"It all came down to real teamwork on defense," said Oregon State coach Craig Robinson. "And to be able to play that kind of game with Jared Cunningham not having one of his greatest games, that bodes well for us later on in the tournament."
Cunningham, averaging 18.2 points a game coming in, ended a streak of 22 straight games scoring in double figures.
Washington State got a team-high 18 points from forward Brock Motum, the conference's No. 2 scorer this season, and 14 from guard Marcus Capers, who was 6 of 7 from the floor. Motum becomes the third player in school history to finish with more than 500 points and 200 rebounds in one season.
The Cougars swept the regular-season series between the two teams before the Beavers got their revenge on Wednesday. It was Oregon State's first win in the last five games of this series.
Washington State coach Ken Bone said he was proud of the way his team responded to the early deficit to get back into the game.
"Oregon State came out and threw the first punch and landed it pretty hard," Bone said. "I don't think I had our guys ready to go from the beginning. It seemed that we were very lethargic that first eight or ten minutes. But then to their credit, we battled back to take a one point lead at halftime, and that was pretty impressive the way our guys played. Then down the stretch, Oregon State made plays and we didn't. "
The Beavers now turn their attention to Washington.
"We've just got to come out strong like we did for today's game and just play together and keep playing on defense, and our offense will come," Collier said. "We had each teammate help on defense, either it was a block or a steal or a rebound, and we just executed. I feel for tomorrow's game, if we come out strong like we did today, that will put us in a good situation."