The Oregon State men’s basketball team was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 preseason poll. But on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, they were the last team standing in the Pac-12 tournament. Unfortunately for the No. 23 University of Colorado Buffaloes, it was at their expense.
Playing in their first conference championship game since 2012, the three-seeded Buffs fell to the five-seeded Beavers, 70-68.
Colorado’s season expects to continue, however, as the Buffs will know their seed in the NCAA tournament on Sunday. For Oregon State, a team who was considered to be on the outside looking in, the win guaranteed themselves a spot in the big dance.
Although the loss stung, head coach Tad Boyle gave all the credit to Oregon State for simply outplaying the Buffs.
“I’m extremely disappointed and heartbroken for our players,” Boyle said. “We came here to win a championship and we came up short. Credit to Oregon State, they deserved to win this game.”
The stat of the game came via CU’s uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting. CU came into the game leading the nation in at 83.1%, but they made just 12-of-20 on Saturday in what culminated to be a two-point game.
Another sore spot for the Buffs was their three-point defense. Oregon State shot an impressive 60% in the first half while CU was 0-for-4 after 20 minutes. Junior forward Evan Battey scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half and both teams shot 50% from the field but OSU held a slim 33-28 lead heading into the break.
Colorado peeked its head with a 37-36 lead early in the second half but OSU answered with a 6-0 run to silence any augmenting momentum.
Boyle said the ultimate tipping point of the game came with just under five minutes remaining when Beavs’ forward Alatishe Warith missed a free throw but snuck in to get the offensive rebound. Colorado’s failure to box out turned into a three-pointer by OSU guard Jarod Lucas and a seven-point Beaver lead.
“We did not execute,” Boyle said. “I’ve complimented this team and this group of guys when they have executed the defensive game plan. Tonight we didn’t and it cost us the game because guarding the three-point line was the key and it was a difference in the game.”
A small amount of hope remained when senior guard McKinley Wright IV hit two free throws with two seconds left to cut the deficit to one. Oregon State’s Roman Silva was fouled on the ensuing inbound and after he hit 1-of-2 free throws, Wright’s missed halfcourt hoist sealed defeat.
Wright led CU with 18 points and senior guard D’Shawn Schwartz had his highest-scoring game of the tournament with 11. Battey, Wright and Schwartz scored 45 of CU’s 68 points while OSU’s bench bested the Buffs, 29-19.
“We weren’t good enough tonight,” Battey said. “We just have to focus on winning the next game and I’m going to be reiterating that to my team, just win the next game, and if you don’t want to go home, then win the next game.”
Colorado will have a next game on either Friday or Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis.
Contact CU Independent Head Visuals Editor Casey Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.