Pope, Taylor Jr., and Bilodeau combine for 56 points as the Beavers take down the California Bears 69-66


Morgan Barnaby

Michael Rataj dunking for the final two points scored in the game against the California Golden Bears on March 4th at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, OR. After being down for most of the game, the Beavers made a comeback, winning the game with a score of 66-69.

Noah Evans, Sports Contributor

Seniors Rodrigue Andela and Dzmitry Ryuny were showered with cheers from Beaver Nation inside Gill Coliseum prior to Saturday’s tip-off against the California Bears. A gritty 16-point comeback led by guard Jordan Pope earned the Beavers a 69-66 victory over the bears.

“Rodrigue and Dzmitry, they do a lot for us on the court, just to send them out with one more win at Gill, it means a lot to us and I’m sure it means a lot to them”, said freshman Jordan Pope reflecting on the impact of the seniors after their last game of the regular season.

The Beavers wouldn’t drain their first bucket of the game until the five-minute mark when forward Tyler Bilodeau tickled the twine putting the team tally at three. The team’s shooting woes would continue through the first half, shooting a combined 8-22 from the floor. These shooting troubles would set the tone for the evening.

“It was all Cal, we knew the minute they walked into the gym they were focused, they knocked us back and caused some cloudiness there early,” said Head Coach Wayne Tinkle on the early performance of their opponent.

The Bears would run away early in the game led by guard Joel Brown. Brown would finish the first half as the Bear’s leading scorer with 13 points shooting an efficient 4-6 from the field. 

Forward Glenn Taylor Jr. led the Beavers in the first half scoring 11 points only attempting five shots and sinking three of them. Before time would expire in the first half, Taylor Jr. sank a deep three making the Beavers eight points down heading into the locker room. 

Taylor Jr. was the scoring spark plug the Beavers needed for the rest of the game. He would close out the night with a dominant 28 points shooting 6-13 from the field.

“His focus at shootaround was great, when I peeked my head in about an hour before the game, I don’t think he missed a single jumper,” said Coach Tinkle on Taylor Jr.’s performance. “He was huge for us. His energy on both offense and defense is what ignited our comeback.”

A 38-18 scoring run over a 14-minute time period helped the Beavers bring the game back to an even score of 45 apiece. The game would continue to go back and forth for the whole second half.

The trio of Bilodeau, Taylor Jr., and Pope led the Beavers to such a dominant second half. These three combined for a total of 56 of the 69 Beaver points and proved to be the difference makers of this comeback victory.

With one minute left on the clock, the game was locked at 64 points. Cal’s Grant Newell hit a tough two-point jumper to put the Bears up one. With ice in his veins, forward Michael Rataj hit a two of his own to put the Beavers back up one with 9 seconds remaining. A costly step out of bounds by the Bears would give the ball back to the home squad. 

To seal the victory, Rataj blew the roof off the legendary Gill Coliseum with a commanding two-handed slam dunk. 

Up next, the Beavers travel to sunny Las Vegas as they begin Pac-12 tournament play. The opponent has yet to be set, but games begin on Wednesday.

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