LAS VEGAS — As Zach Reichle said after Oregon State’s win against Washington at the Pac-12 tournament, “Nothing for us this season has been easy.”
From experiencing a deadly terrorist act in August in Spain to losing a player via a midseason transfer to 13 losses by single digits, there was little that came easy for the Beavers men’s basketball team.
The highs and lows came to a culmination with a 16-16 record and the realization that Oregon State wasn’t far from a top-half finish in the conference and possibly a berth in the NCAA or NIT tournaments.
But an inability to regularly close games out provided too big a hurdle.
The season ended with an uncharacteristic 61-48 loss to USC in Las Vegas in which the Beavers had a season-low 19 first-half points and weren’t able to put much of a scare into the Trojans.
“The message in the locker room was all that we’ve been through, we said, look where we were a year ago, and look how far we’ve come,” coach Wayne Tinkle said, alluding to the 2016-17 team’s 5-27 mark. “We’re proud of the effort and leadership.”
Tinkle said this season can be used as a life lesson and working harder to get what you want out of something.
“We’ve got guys that work hard, don’t get me wrong,” the coach added. “But that’s what life’s all about. Just giving a little more.”
Oregon State will focus on the positives and try to build off the progress.
Here’s a look at some of the Beavers’ high and low points of the past season.
• Oregon State defeated Washington 69-66 in overtime at the Pac-12 tournament, getting its best win on the season’s biggest stage.
• Stevie Thompson gave the Huskies bad dreams for the second time in three seasons when his buzzer-beater 3-pointer Feb. 10 gave OSU a 97-94 double-overtime win at Gill Coliseum.
• The Beavers defeated Oregon 76-64 at home on Jan. 5 to give Oregon State two wins in three home games to open the conference schedule.
• Tres Tinkle emerged as one of the Pac-12’s best players and was named to the all-conference team last week. The redshirt sophomore forward was the only Pac-12 player in the top 10 in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
• This year’s team was the best rebounding squad in Wayne Tinkle’s four seasons. The Beavers won that category 18 times (including nine in conference), equaling the total of the past two years combined. Tres Tinkle (7.2), Drew Eubanks (6.8) and Ethan Thompson (4.1) were the team’s top rebounders.
• Oregon State ended a 22-game road losing streak March 3 with a 92-67 win at Washington State. The Beavers had two of their three highest Pac-12 scoring game against the Cougars.
• Reichle, a freshman guard, played two of his most influential games late in the season, including the tournament win against Washington. He played 33 minutes (14 more than he had all season) and tied season highs with seven points and seven rebounds.
“He played big time,” Tres Tinkle said. “We need guys like that to step up, knock down shots. It’s just going to only help us. Kudos to him for stepping up on such a big stage.”
Added coach Tinkle: “He played through some mistakes defensively. The neat thing was this time he didn’t do what freshmen do sometimes, drop his chin, ‘woe is me.’ He just kept fighting. Made some big baskets for us. Got some key defensive rebounds for us.”
Reichle subbed into the game with 15:38 to go in regulation and played the rest of the game, including the overtime period.
“I was surprisingly calm at the end. I wasn’t nervous or anything,” he said. “Just go out there and play the game. Stick to the game plan. These guys, we’ve all got each other’s backs.”
• The Beavers struggled in tight games, winning just eight of 21 contests decided single digits.
“It just makes you regret not going as hard or not being prepared for it,” Eubanks said. “It’s always hard, but during the season I guess you don’t think about it too much. It’s just looking back at it that really hurts you. Looking back now … there were times where we weren’t as focused as we should have been.”
• The most devastating defeat likely came at California, which finished dead last in the Pac-12. The Beavers fell 74-70 to extend their losing streak to four.
• Oregon State took narrow losses against Long Beach State in Orlando and Kent State on the road. Win those three aforementioned games and the Beavers are 19-13 after the Pac-12 tournament and likely in the NIT.
• A 13-point lead with eight minutes left at Arizona State turned into a two-point loss. It came early in a stretch of six losses in seven games.
• OSU was only six games into its season when sophomore point guard JaQuori McLaughlin decided to transfer.
McLaughlin, who started the first five games, was struggling — shooting 23.8 percent from the floor while averaging 2.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists — and was relegated to coming off the bench in his final game, a 65-46 win against Marist in Orlando. He’s since landed at Cal State Santa Barbara.
McLaughlin’s exit left the Beavers especially thin at a position where there were already few options.