It wasn’t looking good for Oregon State late in Saturday afternoon’s showdown with Big 12 Conference power Iowa State at Gill Coliseum.
The visitors had turned a four-point deficit into a one-point lead in short order after an OSU traveling call, offensive charge, a missed medium-range jumper and no points on a pair of free throws.
But the one guy the Beavers were most comfortable with taking the big shots in the crucial moments took them, and made them.
Tres Tinkle came to the rescue in a game that could build NCAA tournament hopes, hitting two 3-pointers in a span of 42 seconds to give Oregon State an 80-74 win in front of an announced crowd of 6,173.
Tinkle’s first 3 of the two put the Beavers ahead for good. The second, with 54 seconds remaining, gave the home team a stranglehold on the way to a 2-0 start to the season.
“Being in situations like that before I’ve always just stayed ready, stayed confident,” the senior forward said.
Tinkle credited his teammate for helping him get open looks, first from the right wing and then just to the left of the top of the key. The Beavers had four other players make 3s Saturday and shot a collective 12 of 21, not allowing the Cyclones to focus on their defensive target.
Iowa State (1-1) used a 15-4 run — with a trio of 3-pointers — to erase a double-digit hole and go ahead one on George Conditt’s dunk with 6:46 remaining.
The Cyclones were working the pick-and-roll and getting easy baskets off their execution.
But the Beavers found a way to turn the tide with the lineup of Tinkle, Antoine Vernon, Ethan Thompson, Kylor Kelley and Zach Reichle.
In a game where he struggled again from the field, Thompson made a 3-pointer to help restart OSU’s offense.
On two straight possessions, Thompson and Reichle found a cutting Kelley for two-hand flushes that energized the home crowd.
“I think our defense, we let them get a little out of hand there in the middle of the second half and finally came and locked in on D,” Reichle said. ”That was a big difference.”
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Iowa State climbed back in before the first of Tinkle’s two late 3-pointers ended a scoring drought of more than three minutes.
Vernon then fouled Tyrese Haliburton on a 3-point attempt, but the Cyclones’ star guard made just one of three at the foul line. Thompson made two at the line on a 1-and-1 opportunity with 35 seconds left after missing two earlier, and the Beavers got two defensive stops from there to close it out.
OSU coach Wayne Tinkle called it a “united effort.”
“Contributions from so many people, and that’s what our team has to do,” he said.
Tres Tinkle finished with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, including a career-best six makes on eight attempts from the 3-point line. He also added 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. The blocks equaled a career high.
Big man Kylor Kelley had 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. That followed 18 points, eight boards and four swats in the season-opening win four days earlier against Cal State Northridge.
Coach Tinkle said the 7-foot Kelley, a senior in his second year with the program, has gotten stronger and has been boosted by the encouragement of his teammates. Kelley was one of the leading shot blockers in the country last season while still working to develop his offensive game
“I think he wasn’t sure what he was capable of. Now he’s starting to understand that and be good with it,” the coach said. “It’s one thing to understand it, but sometimes it makes guys a little nervous of it. I think he’s at that point where he’s really accepting what’s in front of him because of his work and his potential.”
The Beavers also got 11 points and seven rebounds from Zach Reichle, marking the first back-to-back double-digit scoring games for the junior guard.
Thompson added nine points, seven assists and four rebounds. Alfred Hollins had seven points, all in the first half, and freshman center Roman Silva had five points and three rebounds in six-plus minutes.
Coach Tinkle said it was too early to know if the Beavers’ demonstrated ability is a reflection of the team it will be as the season progresses.
“But I think we have that ability for sure,” he said. “We don’t want to give up those kind of runs. But we have the kind of talent, I think, to make a run ourselves.”
The bounce-back efforts came against a squad that returns five players who were significant contributors to a Big 12 tournament championship and program’s seventh NCAA tournament berth in the last eight years.
Haliburton, one of the main reasons there were 26 NBA scouts in attendance Saturday, had 15 points and 12 assists. He did all his scoring in the second half.
Rasir Bolton added 16 points and Conditt 14 for the Cyclones.