Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies will play Oregon State Thursday in their first-round game of the Pac-12 Conference tournament, a match-up determined Wednesday when the No.9-seeded Beavers knocked off No. 8 Washington State 69-64 in the opening round of the four-day event at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Tip-off between the Huskies and Beavers is 12:10 p.m.
The Huskies, the league’s regular season champion, had a first-round bye as the No. 1 tournament seed. They defeated Oregon State twice during the regular season, beating the Beavers 95-80 in Seattle Dec. 29, and again Feb. 12, 75-72.
Oregon State has three consecutive victories. The Beavers trashed both Utah and Colorado in the final week of the Pac-12 regular season before beating Washington State Wednesday. The Beavers had been on a five-game losing streak.
OSU lost twice to Washington State during the regular season but threatened to blow away the Cougars early in what evolved into one of the stranger first halves in recent conference tournament history.
Led by Ahmad Starks, who drained four early 3-pointers, the Beavers tore away on a 13-0 run to take a 16-point lead. At that point, Washington State switched to a man-to-man defense and Oregon State lapsed into a deep coma.
The Cougars then went on a 24-4 run of their own that put them in front at the half — despite the fact that their leading scorer, Brock Motum, tallied only five points before intermission.
Another first-half oddity: Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham, the Pac-12’s leading scorer in the regular season (18.2ppg), attempted just four shots and scored just two points. Even stranger: Cunningham didn’t pick it up a bit in the second half, finishing with four points on 1-for-8 shooting.
Early in the second half, Cunningham drew a flagrant foul, sending Motum to the line for a pair of free throws that put WSU up 44-38. But the Beavers tied at 58 with 6:00 left, went ahead 62-60 with a pair of free throws at the 2:18 mark, and Washington State couldn’t get back in it.
The Cougars had a poor day at the foul line, making only 18 of 29, including five down the stretch that might have made a difference. Marcus Capers had two of the misses with 1:21 to play.
The key play occurred with 57 seconds remaining when Roberto Nelson penetrated on a dribble drive and fed to Joe Burton, whose layup gave Oregon State a 66-61 advantage.
With Cunningham MIA, Devon Collier stepped up with 19 points, making seven of eight shots. He also had six rebounds. Burton added 15 and Starks 13. Starks did not hit another 3-pointer after his quartet of treys.
Motum rebounded from a poor first half to lead the Cougars with 18 points. Capers finished with 14 and Reggie Moore 10 and 10 assists.
Washington State finished the 2011-12 season with a 15-16 overall record, including 7-11 in conference play. Oregon State is 18-13.
Washington is 1-1 against Oregon State in the conference tournament. The teams last met in the 2010 quarterfinals, UW winning 59-52. UW and OSU also met in the 1988 quarterfinals, the Beavers winning 80-61.
For the 14th time overall, and for the 10th consecutive year, the Pac-12 is hosting a tournament to determine the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The schedule:
|Game #||Time||Seeds / Opponents|
|01||12 p.m.||No. 9 Oregon State 69, No. 8 Washington State 64|
|02||2:30 p.m.||No. 5 UCLA (18-13) vs. No. 12 USC (6-25, 1-17)|
|03||6 p.m.||No. 7 Stanford (19-10, 9-8) vs. No. 10 ASU (9-20, 6-12)|
|04||8:30 p.m.||No. 6 Colorado (19-11, 11-7) vs. No. 11 Utah (6-25, 3-15)|
|Game #||Time||Seeds / Opponents|
|05||12 p.m.||No. 9 Oregon St. (18-13, 7-9) vs. No. 1 Washington (21-9, 14-4)|
|06||2:30 p.m.||Game 2 Winner vs. No. 4 Arizona (21-10, 12-6)|
|07||6 p.m.||Game 3 Winner vs. No. 2 California (23-8, 13-5)|
|08||8:30 p.m.||Game 4 Winner vs. No. 3 Oregon (22-8, 13-5)|
|9||6 p.m.||Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner|
|10||8:30 p.m.||Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner|
|11||3 p.m.||Pac-12 Championship|