Wayne Tinkle’s main goal for his team’s opening exhibition of the men’s basketball season Wednesday was to come out of it healthy and show some improvement.
Oregon State accomplished both for the most part in a 79-60 win against Carroll at Gill Coliseum. Sophomore guard Antoine Vernon had to leave the game early in the second half with cramps, but overall it was a positive step forward for the Beavers.
Carroll, a NAIA school in Helena, Montana, coached by former OSU staffer Kurt Paulson, hung around for a half before the home team found some traction.
“These are tough games for us. We have size and physicality and you play against a team that’s got a lot shorter guys running around hitting 3s,” Tinkle said.
Carroll, the national runner-up last season, had a 20-16 rebounding edge in the first half, including nine offensive to the Beavers’ one. The Saints also made five 3-pointers to OSU’s two.
But a quick spurt in the opening minutes of the second half have the Beavers some extended breathing room for the first time in the contest.
After Vernon went down, OSU got consecutive 3-pointers from Zach Reichle and Ethan Thompson and a Tres Tinkle conventional three-point play to push the one-point halftime lead to 10.
A Kylor Kelley block and Tres Tinkle pass led to another three-point play, this time in transition by Sean Miller-Moore.
Miller-Moore, a junior college transfer forward, got involved again later with consecutive baskets. He first took a Thompson pass and finished a baseline drive with a hard one-hand slam. Soon after, he stole a pass and weaved through defenders in transition to give OSU an 18-point lead midway through the second half.
Carroll got no closer than 14 from there.
“I feel like we’re fine,” said Miller-Moore, who contributed seven points, two rebounds, two steals and an assist in 14-plus minutes. “A lot of us have to get our nerves out and trust our ability to work, because we work hard in practice. So we should be able to bring that to the game.”
The Beavers have one more rehearsal — Oct. 29 at home against Warner Pacific — before hosting Cal State Northridge on Nov. 5 in the regular-season opener.
Kelley had a team-high 16 points — 12 in the first half — to go along with eight rebounds, five blocks and two assists.
The 7-footer senior used his movement off the ball as much as his height advantage to score in the game’s first 20 minutes. Carroll played no one taller than 6-7.
“We made an emphasis to throw it into him running a couple of our basic sets to get him the ball,” coach Tinkle said. “He made some very strong athletic moves. We dropped it off to him a few times. He’s a guy who’s playing with a lot of confidence because of the experience he got last year.”
Added Miller-Moore: “He’s obviously great at moving and finding open spots. Our team is good at finding him and we trust him to make the right plays.”
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Ethan Thompson added 14 points, six assists and three rebounds and Tres Tinkle 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
Oregon State got off to a slow offense start, making one of their first four shots as Kelley and Thompson missed on short-range attempts.
But better movement led to more tries finding the bottom of the net.
Kelley scored eight straight OSU points, leading to a 16-9 advantage. Thompson and Tinkle repeatedly found the big man moving toward the basket for an easy flush.
True freshman guard Jarod Lucas, the top scorer in Southern California prep history, made his first 3-point attempt. Thompson added a 3-pointer as well to give OSU eight makes in 12 shots from the floor.
Kelley returned the favor to Tinkle, hitting his teammate for a layin as the Beavers extended to a 26-18 edge.
But as OSU struggled against Carroll’s zone defense, the Saints went on a 9-1 on three 3-pointers, two by Dennis Flowers III, to claim a 27-all tie with less than four minutes in the first half.
Kelley made two free throws and Tinkle scored on a Thompson-assisted basket to lead 32-31 at halftime.
Kelley had 12 points at the break, Tinkle seven and Thompson five.
Miller-Moore was the first newcomer on the floor, replacing Alfred Hollins about five minutes into the contest.
Dearon Tucker, Gianni Hunt and Payton Dastrup also saw their first playing time in OSU uniforms in the first half. Julien Franklin and Roman Silva got into the game after halftime. Walk-ons Isaac Barnes (injury) and Joey Potts (coach’s decision) didn’t play.
Franklin finished with seven points and and Lucas five.
Paulson is in his second year at Carroll, his alma mater. He served two different terms under Wayne Tinkle, for two years as a graduate assistant at Montana and later four years as Oregon State’s director of basketball operations.
Paulson said it was a good experience for his players to compete in a Pac-12 arena.
He also liked what he saw from his former team.
“I see a lot of different lineups they can play. They’re very deep and have some size,” Paulson said. “They have everything you need to make a deep run and get to the (NCAA) tournament. I’ll be following them close, cheering them on from a couple states away and wishing them the best of luck.”