OSU men’s basketball gets a feel-good win vs WSU

Joshua Lucas Daily Barometer

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

OSU cruised to a 20-point victory on Senior Day over Washington State and Daniel Gomis had something to grin about

A sellout crowd in Gill Coliseum on Sunday was treated to more than just the back end of a two-game sweep of Washington and Washington State. It saw more than the Beavers providing a boost to NCAA Tournament hopes and Pac-12 seeding.

The most feel-good storyline of all came in the form of a right-handed layup with 2:09 remaining to give the Beavers a 68-49 lead over Washington State.

That bucket came from senior forward Daniel Gomis, who had a big smile on his face after the layup. He had missed the last six games with a stress fracture in his leg and missed the first nine games of the year with a broken bone in his hand. He returned for Senior Day to play his final regular season game in Gill Coliseum, spending just 58 seconds on the court and scoring off an assist from fellow senior Langston Morris-Walker in the 69-49 win that gave OSU an 8-8 mark in the Pac-12.

“It was really exciting. It was really efficient, playing one minute and getting a basket was great for him,” said senior forward Olaf Schaftenaar. “It was great to see.”

“Langston just made a great play and (Daniel) was down there by himself,” added senior guard Gary Payton II. “Easy bucket.”

Payton II had his special moment as well on Senior Day, changing from his normal jersey No. 1 to the No. 20 to honor his father, OSU Hall of Famer Gary Payton.

“It was to give respect back to my pops and for the community out here,” Payton II said, who managed to keep the jersey switch a surprise for his father until starting lineups were announced. “They hadn’t seen (No. 20) in a long time. It was an exciting thing to do for the community and to pay my dues to my pops.”

OSU (17-10, 8-8) led for 36:39 on Sunday against Washington State, using a three-way game-high 13 points from Payton II as well as freshmen forwards Drew Eubanks and Tres Tinkle, while Schaftenaar chipped in 11 points. Eubanks and Payton had nine and seven rebounds, respectively, while Morris-Walker posted eight points and four boards on his Senior Day.

The latest tournament projections had OSU still right on the bubble before the WSU win, with CBS Sports and USA Today putting OSU as No. 9 seed while ESPN’s bracket had OSU as one of the top four teams outside the tournament. OSU is No. 1 in the NCAA in strength of schedule so far this season, according to ESPN.

One of the biggest encouragements for an OSU team on the edge of its first NCAA Tournament berth in 26 seasons was the advantage on the boards Sunday. The Beavers won the rebounding battle 43-33 over WSU after using a 41-25 differential Wednesday against Washington in the 82-81 buzzer-beating victory. For the first time this season, OSU outrebounded both opponents in a week.

“Our guys realized over the course of time that’s important for us to have success,” said head coach Wayne Tinkle. “If we had shot it a little better, there might have been a little bigger bigger disparity in the rebounding edge. But I’m really proud of the guys for accepting that challenge, getting more physical and rebounding the ball. We need to do that.”

The Beavers will travel to Los Angeles this week to face USC on Wednesday and UCLA on Saturday. OSU split the home games earlier in the season, beating the Trojans but losing to the Bruins. With OSU, USC, Washington and Stanford all bottlenecked in the middle of the Pac-12 standings, the Los Angeles trip will be critical for Pac-12 Tournament seeding and postseason brackets. Sunday’s win over Washington State, of course, puts OSU in the right direction with two games to play.

“I’m thrilled at this, but we can’t be content,” coach Tinkle said. “The minute we get content, the minute we get away from the team and starting thinking about me. That’s when we struggle. We’re going to stay focused, stay hungry, knowing that our best basketball needs to be in front of us.”

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