Oregon State knows all too well by now what it looks and feels like to see a significant second-half lead fade away and not be able to do much about it.
It happened again Saturday, just as the Beavers appeared to have taken control against USC and were on their way to a Pac-12 home sweep against two of the better teams in the conference.
Shots didn’t fall and frustration with the officiating rose to a boil after Ethan Thompson’s 3-pointer with 8:04 left gave OSU a 54-47 lead.
Not much went right for the Beavers from there in a 74-67 men’s basketball loss at Gill Coliseum.
Oregon State (11-8, 3-4) saw USC (15-6, 6-2) score 18 straight points in less than four minutes.
The Beavers missed eight straight shots. Big man Drew Eubanks fouled out late in that stretch and forward Alfred Hollins would head to the bench with his fifth personal a few minutes later. The two lasted a combined 33 minutes.
“We had command of the game and the momentum was totally taken from us,” said OSU coach Wayne Tinkle, who didn’t hide his displeasure in the postgame news conference with the way the game was called in the second half. “We got two starters that are out in foul trouble. They have their starters in. They swung the momentum and hit some big shots.”
Tres Tinkle had 21 points and seven rebounds to lead the Beavers, who have dropped all eight losses this season by single digits. Elijah Stewart had 18 points for the Trojans, who have won four straight.
OSU got in position to sweep the L.A. schools at Gill for the third time in five seasons with a strong first five minutes of the second half after trailing most of the first half and by two at halftime.
Stevie Thompson’s 3-pointer got OSU in the lead and a Seth Berger layin put the Beavers back in front. Berger’s assists to Tres Tinkle and Stevie Thompson capped a 10-2 run that put the Beavers up six.
Tres Tinkle’s back-court steal and dunk with 13:21 left gave OSU its biggest lead of the game at 45-37.
The Beavers held off the Trojans for another five minutes, with solid play on both ends that allowed them a cushion on the scoreboard. All while Eubanks and Tres Tinkle spent time off the floor with foul trouble.
“We came out with a little more energy at the beginning of the second half,” said Stevie Thompson, who chipped in 16 points and equaled a career high with five steals. “We hit some shots and we were able to get some stops and that propelled us a little bit.”
But then USC came in a hurry.
Two missed layups and a turnover by the Beavers and three Jordan Usher 3-pointers later — all in less than three minutes — and USC had a four-point lead.
OSU made a defensive adjustment to keep Usher from getting open looks, but it didn’t change the result.
Usher, a reserve guard, scored all 14 of his points in the second half, including four 3-pointers.
“We did what we could to get stops and try to score the ball,” Tres Tinkle said. “Things weren’t going in our favor at times in the second half. We let the guy hit three 3s in a row.”
Usher’s deep balls weren’t the end of the Trojans’ run. They added seven more points in a row, eventually taking a 65-54 lead on two Stewart foul shots with 4:11 left.
The Beavers got no closer than six from there.
USC was 20 of 24 at the foul line, including 18 of 22 after halftime.
“It was a literal parade to the free-throw line for them for a while that brought them back in the game,” coach Tinkle said.
The Beavers were 19 of 23 (82.6 percent) in all, their third-best mark of the season. They were 6 of 9 in the second half.
OSU led the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting in conference games at 40.8 percent after Thursday's 69-63 win against UCLA but was just 4 of 18 (22.2) Saturday.
Hollins and Ethan Thompson each had eight points for Oregon State, which plays at rival Oregon next Saturday. Berger had a career-high six assists with four rebounds. Zach Reichle had a season-high seven rebounds.
The Beavers won the rebounding category (37-26) for the fifth time in seven conference games.
USC moved the ball well and found holes in Oregon State’s zone defense through the game’s first nine minutes, jumping out to an 18-10 lead.
The Beavers were slower to gain some offensive traction, but the home team got a spark from Hollins off the bench.
The freshman forward made two free throws after he was fouled going to the basket then dunked on a pass from Stevie Thompson to cut the deficit to four.
The Trojans, who shot 5 of 12 on 3-pointers before halftime, pushed the lead back to eight on a Shaqquan Aaron deep ball with 5:06 in the half.
The Beavers erased a seven-point deficit to forge a tie late in the half, with every point coming at the foul line.
Tres Tinkle was fouled going to the basket with 15 seconds left, and USC coach Andy Enfield apparently had too much to say about it. Tinkle made four straight free throws on the possession to tie the game at 33-all.
Jordan McLaughlin’s two foul shots in the final second gave the Trojans a two-point lead at the break.
Tres Tinkle had 14 points at halftime and the Beavers were 14 of 14 at the line.