PAC-2 rematch sees OSU fall again

KC Ibekwe (#24) attempting to make a basket on February 8th, at Gill Stadium at Oregon State University. OSU lost to Washington State, 64-58.
KC Ibekwe (#24) attempting to make a basket on February 8th, at Gill Stadium at Oregon State University. OSU lost to Washington State, 64-58.
Kate Zinke

With the score nearly identical to their matchup in Pullman, the Oregon State University Men’s Basketball team couldn’t comeback as they lost 64-58 in Gill Coliseum on Thursday versus Washington State University. The score in their first matchup was 65-58 in favor of the Cougars as well.

In a game where the Beavers never seemed to fall out of it, they led for a whopping 50 seconds to the Cougars 35.5 minutes. They never trailed by double digits, and tied the game five times.

Offensively, they outperformed the Cougars overall, shooting 44.9% from the field compared to 40%. But they lost the game by the deep ball, making three out of their 12 attempts compared to WSU’s 11/23 efforts from deep.

A big milestone was achieved for WSU Head Coach Kyle Smith, who earned his 250th win as a head coach, with this being his 86th as WSU’s.

The first half saw highlights from both teams that could make the Sportscenter Top 10. Beavers center Chol Marial ran down Cougar point guard Myles Rice and rejected Rice’s layup attempt, sending the crowd into a roar. Washington State guard Jaylen Wells starred in the first half, erupting for 18 points, with two of them coming from an ankle breaker that sent Tyler Bilodeau to his rear.

Jordan Pope led the Beavers in scoring at the half with nine. Star WSU forward Isaac Jones, who won the national player of the week award a few weeks ago committed two fouls early and only had two points in the half in limited minutes. The Cougars led by one, 27-26 after the half.

The second half stayed a back and forth fight, with the Beavers using their size to continue to fight late in the game. Marial had an offensive rebound that led to a dunk, as well as Michael Rataj who had one for a layup. The offense was able to get WSU big man Oscar Cluff into foul trouble which led to these opportunities.

Three Beavers hit double figures, Rataj, Pope and Bilodeau, 12 for Pope, 11 for Bilodeau, and 10 for Rataj. The Cougars were led by Wells who finished the game with 24, going 6/8 from deep and was tied for the lead in rebounds with seven.

“We were very fortunate Jaylen (Wells), what he had 18, 20 in the first half.” Smith said.

Wells, who scored the most points in a half for WSU this season and secured a season high on the year, couldn’t miss early on in the game.

“The basket just kinda felt like the ocean out there,” Wells said.
Wells, who transferred to WSU this past year, played at the division 2 level prior to joining this Cougar team.

“I feel like every college player is skilled,” Wells said when asked about the skill difference between the two divisions, adding that the only main difference is size, not skill.

Cluff was tied with Pope last time the teams played for most points in the game with 20, yet was unable to see the ball go in the basket today, going 0-3. His efforts were mainly seen on defense where he had two steals to go along with two blocks.

“We needed it badly,” Smith commented about Cluff. “They are big around there. Defensively he was really crafty whether it was man or zone. He is a really smart guy and he is kind of our center fielder in the zone and the man who will protect the rim.”

Late in the game, OSU’s Dexter Akanno hit a deep shot that was initially ruled a three and cut the lead to two, but was later overturned as his foot was on the line. WSU senior Andrej Jakimovski then hit back to back threes for the Cougars to seal the game and give the Beaver their biggest deficit of the night.

The Cougars (17-6, 8-4) head down to Eugene to face the Ducks on Saturday at 2 p.m. as they look to make their first March Madness appearance since 2008.

The Beavers (11-12, 3-9) will face University of Washington Saturday, at 4 p.m., in Gill Coliseum as they look to end their three-game losing streak.

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