Rataj’s 17 points not enough in Beavers’ late spark against the Sun Devils, ends in a 74-69 Beaver loss


Duane Knapp

Freshman forward, Michael Rataj, attempts a free throw during the first half of the Beavers’ game agains the Arizona State Sun Devils on Jan. 14 in Gill Coliseum. Rataj played 32 minutes, marking the highest of his season, and contributed towards six field goals, also a season high.

Casey Smith, Sports Contributor

It was another case of costly turnovers at Gill Coliseum Saturday afternoon as the Arizona State Sun Devils defeated the Oregon State Beavers at home. 

Some positives were shown by the Beavers today, but in the end, they lost the game by a score of 74-69.

Having led by 12 points early in the first half, the Beavers were lights out from beyond the arch, shooting three of five from the three-point line in the opening minutes of the game.

The Beaver zone defense proved difficult early for the Sun Devils as ASU shot one of nine from the field in the opening minutes.

The German freshman, Michael Rataj, had an electric first half, mounting 12 points, and giving the Beavers a nine-point lead with eight minutes remaining. 

Before the end of the half, the Beavers would find themselves in foul trouble, committing 10 team fouls in 15 minutes. The Sun Devils would take advantage of their trips to the line, shooting 9-15. 

Having led by 12 points earlier in the half, Arizona State, led by guard Desmond Cambridge Jr., was successful in cutting into the Beavers lead, providing a much needed spark before halftime. Cambridge would finish the game with 21 points. 

Out of the half, guard Frankie Collins created mismatches for the Sun Devils as they began to penetrate the strong Beaver zone defense. 

With thirteen minutes remaining, the Sun Devils mounted their first lead of the game. Looking to run down the play clock, Cambridge put the team on his back once more, hitting difficult shots over multiple Beaver defenders. Defensively, Cambridge would pick up two blocks and a steal himself, converting it to points on the other end.  

With their backs against the wall, Oregon State and head coach Wayne Tinkle began to utilize timeouts effectively keeping the game within reach. 

Post-game, Tinkle discussed turnovers, injuries, and fatigue while advocating for more ways to win. 

“We gotta figure out ways to close games out,” said Tinkle.

Following a tough shot knockdown shot by Cambridge, OSU forward Tyler Bilodeau would foul out of the game with less than four minutes remaining. 

Off of a steal by forward Glenn Taylor Jr., the Beavers would have a chance to bring the game within one score. 

Guard Jordan Pope picked up an important offensive rebound for the Beavers off of a missed free throw by Rataj, converting for the Beavers in crunch time bringing the score within a one-point deficit, landing at 68-67.

However, it would be multiple costly turnovers that would stifle the comeback in the final moments. 

With 8.1 seconds remaining, the Beavers would turn the ball over on their final possession handing it back over to the Sun Devils.

When asked about his performance, Rataj stated, “It’s nice to have a good performance and all, but I want my team to win.” 

The Beavers now own a 7-11 record, setting them at the No. 11 spot in the PAC-12.

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