Oregon State veterans Tres Tinkle, Ethan Thompson and Kylor Kelley sat and watched from the bench for most of Tuesday’s second half as their first-year teammates helped finish off a 96-45 men's basketball exhibition win against Warner Pacific at Gill Coliseum.
A big cushion throughout most of the non-counter gave the newcomers and a few others the opportunity to show the progress they have made. It also allowed the coaching staff to continue its evaluation, which will eventually lead to shrinking the rotation when the regular season begins next week.
True freshmen Gianni Hunt and Jarod Lucas led those seeing their first OSU playing time in minutes and produced results.
Lucas, a shooting guard, had 13 points, with three 3-pointers, one rebound and one assist. Hunt, a point guard, had 12 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle called the chance to get the newcomers extended minutes “huge.”
“It’s the last thing we said in the locker room (afterward)," the coach said. "We’ve got more numbers, more talent, more depth. But I can’t play 14 guys equally night in and night out. So the challenge is keeping guys ready and focused for when they’re called upon.”
Oregon State opens the regular season next Tuesday, Nov. 5, hosting Cal State Northridge. Then comes a home game against Iowa State followed by a trip to Portland to play Oklahoma, contests in which the Beavers could give themselves an early boost as they chase an NCAA tournament berth.
Tres Tinkle, Thompson and Kelley, the team’s top three returners, played just 39 combined minutes against Warner Pacific (2-0), an NAIA team from Portland. Those three were on the floor a combined 82 versus Carroll a week earlier.
Tinkle had a team-high 19 points along with three assists and three steals Tuesday. Thompson added eight points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals and Kelley seven points and six rebounds.
Sean Miller-Moore, a junior college transfer and first-year Beaver, had nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 18-plus minutes. Veteran forward Alfred Hollins had 12 points and five rebounds as a reserve.
Hollins said the first-year players bring “energy, feistiness, those are the two things I just see off the bat. They challenge us, the veteran guys, every day. In the past we haven’t had that problem with newcomers. I think they do a good job, coming in and focused, ready to work.”
Unlike the Carroll exhibition where the Beavers led by a point at halftime and pulled away soon after, Oregon State made quick work of Warner Pacific.
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A 37-10 run — including 22 straight points — covering seven-plus minutes put the home team ahead 37-10 after a Lucas 3-pointer with 7:49 in the half.
A majority of that run was produced with bench players on the floor.
Hollins hit Payton Dastrup for two layups in less than a minute’s time, and Hollins added a mid-range jumper soon after.
Lucas hit two 3-pointers and Hunt another in the stretch. Miller-Moore converted a conventional three-point play.
Coach Tinkle singled out Hunt and Miller Moore for their work defensively, particularly with ball pressure.
He said he’s been impressed with Hunt’s ability to mesh quickly.
“Sometimes freshmen take a while before they figure out what you want them to do,” Tinkle said. “He knows we want him to be a ball hawk defensively, whether we’re man or zone, and then be a playmaker offensively.”
Hunt, although it’s still early in the season and in his collegiate career, said he’s figuring out his role on the team.
“Just energy, just want to be a guy that plays on both ends, look to get guys open and be a hound on defense,” he said.
With the lead expanding late in the first half, Tres Tinkle returned and scored eight quick points to make it a 35-point game.
The Beavers scored just two points in the final three-plus minutes and led 49-18 at the break.
Tinkle had a few more highlights in the opening minutes of the second half before sitting the rest of the way. He had two one-hand slams, one off a steal and another off a Thompson assist while cutting down the middle.
Hollins continued his offensive breakout with six quick points. Hunt showed off his scoring skills with a 3-pointer and two layups, one on a Dastrup assist.
Walk-on Joey Potts, a junior college transfer, played after not seeing the floor against Carroll. One of the biggest cheers of the evening came when Potts got in the scoring column with a second-half free throw. He also added an offensive tip-in in the final seconds.