Did coach’s noble gesture to start walk-ons cost Oregon State win?

Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle has no regrets over how he handled the opening of the Beavers' senior-less senior night on Wednesday: 'Some people might call me crazy and maybe I am, but it was something our guys deserved.'

Godofredo Vasquez

On the surface, it certainly sounds like a noble idea:

Wednesday night was supposed to be senior night in Corvallis, Ore. But first-year Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle has nary a senior on his roster. Instead, to start the Beavers’ final home game of the season, Tinkle started five walk-ons. After all, those players might not be on the team next season due to a strong recruiting class brought in by Tinkle.

And all things considered, the plan seemed to go rather well. Those walk-ons played all of 28 seconds against the rival Oregon Ducks, and when the Beavers starters entered the game, they trailed only 3-0.

The problem? The final score:

Oregon 65, Oregon State 62.

Ouch.

"It was to really give a tribute to our guys for what they’ve done for us this year on what normally would be a senior-type night," Tinkle told reporters after the game. "Some people might call me crazy and maybe I am, but it was something our guys deserved."

Many certainly had Tinkle’s back.

For which Tinkle was certainly grateful.

Truth be told, things got worse for the Beavers (17-13, 8-10 Pac-12) after the starters took the floor, the Ducks pushing the lead to 8-0 before Malcolm Duvivier sank a 3-pointer at the 17:58 mark for the hosts. Then the Beavers really got cooking while the Ducks (23-8, 13-5 Pac-12) went cold from the floor; Oregon State led 28-19 with 5:05 left before Oregon guard Joseph Young responded with eight straight points.

The score was tied 32-all at halftime, and the second half was a back and forth affair.

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With the score tied at 52, Dwayne Benjamin sank a 3-pointer for the Ducks with 3:48 left. Oregon State turned the ball over near halfcourt on the next possession, leading to a Dillon Brooks layup.

The Beavers pulled to within one, but Cook scored a layup with 1:45 remaining, though he missed the ensuing free throw. In the final minute, Oregon State pulled to within one with 34 seconds left after a Duvivier layup, but Oregon made six free throws in the final 30 seconds to secure the win. The Beavers committed two costly turnovers in the final 1:30.

The loss not only hurt the Beavers on the scoreboard, either.

The Beavers needed a win to go .500 in conference play for the second time in 25 years.

The matchup was the 344th time Oregon and Oregon State have played each other, the most in college basketball. Wednesday was the second time in 39 years that both teams came into the contest with at least 17 wins.

A win would have put left the Beavers at 9-9 with a shot at the six-seed in the Pac-12 tournament next week in Las Vegas. (The No. 6 seed opens the tournament against the 11th-place team in the conference.) Instead, while the Beavers could still earn the sixth seed, they could also end up in a five-way tie for sixth.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report