Thompson leads Oregon State past Utah, 68-67
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Despite dropping their first 14 Pac-12 games, Oregon State players remained confident in their abilities.
”We had some pretty tough games, pretty close games down the stretch in league play. We knew that we could compete with anybody, but we didn’t put it together for 40 minutes,” said guard Stephen Thompson Jr.
Thompson sank the winning basket and had 31 points with five 3-pointers, both career highs, as Oregon State waged a furious second half rally to beat Utah 68-67 on Sunday night for its first conference win.
Drew Eubanks added 12 points, six blocks and three steals for the Beavers (5-23, 1-14).
”Our guys deserve to taste some success. Not one of them has gone south on us. They bring it every day,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said.
Kyle Kuzma had 19 points and nine rebounds and David Collette had 13 points for the Utes (17-10, 8-7).
”We weren’t very effective going down the stretch. We lost our composure. And that’s a team that was hungry for the win,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
With the game tied at 64-all, Kuzma sank a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left. On Oregon State’s next possession, Thompson sliced for a lay-in to make the score 67-66. Utah couldn’t inbound the ball, however, and was called for a 5-second violation.
Thompson made a scoop shot with 10 seconds remaining, and the Utes travelled on their next possession. Oregon State’s Gligorije Rakocevic was fouled but missed both free throws with two seconds left, and a desperation shot from the Utes wasn’t close.
Thompson said that on the winning play, he was trying to find a way to get to the rim. ”I stopped and I was looking to see if anybody was open and then I noticed the defender relaxed a little bit, so I turned to try to shoot around him,” he said.
Utah scored 42 points in the paint and shot 52 percent from the floor. Oregon State shot 45.5 percent, but went 8-for-19 from long range.
The Utes led 28-24 at the break.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Gabe Bealer capped an 11-2 run and gave Utah a 51-38 lead with 11:30 left.
The Beavers chipped away, though, and a Thompson 3-pointer made the score 64-63 with 1:37 remaining. Kuzma travelled on the Utes’ next possession. Oregon State’s Jaquori McLaughlin was fouled on a lay-in but went 1 of 2 at the line to tie the game at 64.
Utah: Kuzma, the squad’s leading scorer, sat out Thursday’s loss to Oregon with an ankle injury. . Bealer, a reserve who didn’t play in the first half, set a career high with three 3-pointers. . Utah averages 42.3 points per game in the paint.
Oregon State: Leading scorer Tres Tinkle, who last played Nov. 25, remains out indefinitely with a broken wrist. . Thompson had a bounce-back game after shooting 2-for-12 and committing eight turnovers versus Colorado on Thursday. . Oregon State was the last winless team in the Pac-12, back in 2007-08.
Thompson vs. Utah: Thompson, a sophomore, has delivered versus Utah in his young career. His previous career high of 30 was set at the Huntsman Center on Jan. 28. Last February at Gill Coliseum, the Beavers trailed 69-68 when Thompson was fouled on a last-second half-court shot. He made all three free throws and Oregon State got the home win.
Spoiler alert: Wayne Tinkle said that during a second half timeout, with the Beavers trailing by double digits, he told his squad to keep fighting. ”’Get back on page. Do it all the way. We will have the ball with 30 seconds left to win it.’ I just kind of threw it out there to keep the guys into it,” Tinkle recalled.
Utah plays at Colorado on Thursday.
Oregon State plays at Stanford on Wednesday.