Akanno’s strong night not enough, Beavers lose at last second to rival Oregon


Sabrina Dedek

Freshman guard Jordan Pope drives past his Oregon opponent in the second half of the Rivalry Game inside of Gill Coliseum on Saturday night. Pope is averaging 12.5 points on a 43% shooting percentage.

Noah Evans, Sports Contributor

On a brisk Saturday evening, the Beavers (10-18) welcomed their storied rival The Oregon Ducks (15-13) to Legendary Gill Coliseum. 

In the final game of the season between the bitter rivals, the Beavers hoped to even the season series. The last meeting between these two squads took place in Eugene where the Beavers lost 68-77. 

Jordan Pope and company hoped to write a different script this time around. Although heartbreak would occur in the dying seconds of the game, the Oregon State Men put on a show for Beaver Nation.

The Beavers lost by a score of 69-67 to the Ducks.

“It’s a hell of a rivalry, we gave a quality effort, we got good looks and we got to the free throw line. Our defense was really really good but the Ducks just stayed in it,” head coach Wayne Tinkle said.

An extremely fast-paced first ten minutes of the game helped Jordan Pope (2-9, eight points) and Glenn Taylor (3-7, 12 points, five rebounds) make their mark early. Pope would open the game with a deep three as the shot clock expired. 

Pope would continue to show his craftiness with an acrobatic fadeaway to bring the Beavers within two of the Ducks. Dzmitry Ryuny (2-4, six points) blew the roof off Gill with a three to tie the game at 25.

Glenn Taylor Jr. was OSU’s leading scorer of the first half with nine points and three boards. Oregon’s N’Faly Dante had a dominant first half with eight points and eight total rebounds, four on either side of the floor. 

Scoring would enter a little bit of a lull, and Oregon would shoot just 1-10 from the field in a three-minute span. Dexter Akanno (5-8, 17 points) would reclaim the lead with a three making the score 29-27 with three minutes left in the first half. 

Akanno would finish as OSU’s leading scorer with 17 points and 12 of those coming in the second half.

“We know how big this game is, and how bad we want it, especially after losing at their place. It started in practice, the coaches gave us a sense of urgency and we just followed that plan,” Akanno said.

That sense of urgency was able to shine through for the Beaver offense shooting a fairly efficient 46% from the floor on the night.

Rodrigue Andela (4-5, 10 points, seven rebounds) was able to create an impactful presence down low on both ends of the court. Andela went 4-5 in the low post with seven boards for the evening and his performance helped keep the Beavs close 

Ducks Center Nate Bittle erupted early in the second half for five points shooting a perfect 3-3 from the floor.

Beavers would begin their valiant comeback with a 6-0 run followed by a Michael Rataj three bringing the Beavers within two. The Ducks would come back with a three of their own to take the lead. 

Down three Akanno took the game into his own hands, sinking a three to tie the game at 58. Akanno would connect on a tough layup giving the home squad a two-point lead with four minutes to go.

With the game tied at 67 and under 0.5 left in the game, Oregon’s Rivaldo Soares hit a floater to give the Ducks a 69-67 lead. Despite last-second inbound from the Beaver offensive zone, they did not have enough time to even the score back up.

The Beavers finish their season series 0-2 against the Ducks, should they meet in the PAC-12 tournament, it will be a must-watch basketball game.

The Beavers have just two games left in their 2023 season.

Up next, the Beavers take on the Stanford Cardinal on March 2 at 6 p.m. in Gill Coliseum.

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