Two days before it plays in the Sun Belt Championship Game as the East Division's…
After trailing by 11 points at the halftime break, a Donovan Gregory tip-in layup at the buzzer capped off an incredible second-half comeback to force overtime on Tuesday, but a hot overtime period by Oregon State (3-0) propelled the Beavers to an 81-71 victory over App State (1-2) in Gill Coliseum.
In a back-and-forth second-half slugfest that saw the Mountaineers hold the Beavers to just 20 points, Gregory and Terence Harcum helped spark a second-half comeback to force overtime in Corvallis. Gregory netted eight points in the final frame while Harcum poured in nine.
Despite the loss, it was a good night for a trio of Mountaineers as both Harcum and Justin Abson set season highs in points, while Abson added in 10 rebounds and blocked a career-high six shots. Abson’s double-double was his first of the season. Gregory notched 17 points for the second consecutive game on an efficient 8-12 from the field while also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists.
Jordan Pope and the Beavers got off to a hot start on Tuesday as he accounted for Oregon State’s first nine points on the evening, helping the Beavers jump out to a quick 9-3 lead. The Mountaineers would respond well to Pope’s barrage, going on a 14-6 run to take the lead with 10 minutes to play in the first half.
The defensive intensity by the Mountaineers picked up during their 14-6 run as App State recorded back-to-back steals to take a two-point lead. CJ Huntley’s and Tre’Von Spillers’ fastbreak layups helped cap off the App State swing.
Three-point shooting was a huge factor for the Beavers in the first half as Pope and the Beavers would drain four three-pointers in the next four minutes to take the lead right back before the under-eight media timeout. Pope racked up his third and fourth made three-pointers of the half before the timeout to give him 17 first-half points.
App State couldn’t capitalize on close chances to cut into the Beaver lead and Oregon State capitalized to end the first half as seven different players would make a three in the first half for Wayne Tinkle’s team. Pope’s huge first half and Oregon State’s 10 three-pointers in the half would propel the Beavers to an 11-point lead at the break.
Abson and Gregory each played a strong half of basketball for the Mountaineers as they would each tally seven points. Abson would add seven rebounds to his seven first-half points while also sending back one shot.
After a strong showing by the Beavers in the first frame, the Mountaineers would answer after the break with a strong second-half start, punctuated by a Spillers’ put-back dunk that cut the lead back to two with 13 minutes to play. The Mountaineer defense did well to cool off the Beavers to start the final frame as Oregon State shot just 1-11 and turned the ball over three times during App State’s 11-2 run.
It was an offensive struggle for both teams in the second half, however, as both teams endured long scoring droughts. Oregon State would retake a six-point lead at the under-12-minute media timeout after Tyler Bilodeau made a layup.
After the timeout, the Mountaineers came out aggressive and jumped back in front with a quick 7-0 run fueled by four consecutive points from Gregory. Gregory’s layup to give App State a 50-49 lead marked the first time App State had led in the game since it was 19-17 in the first half.
The lead would change hands once more in favor of Oregon State after Pope scored his first points of the second half. A Terence Harcum free throw would trim the lead back to one before Pope drilled a three-pointer to give him 22 points and shoot the Beavers back in front by four, forcing a Mountaineer timeout.
The Beavers would go on a 7-1 run after Pope’s big three to extend their lead back to seven at the under-four timeout. App State would be fouled just before the timeout to put them in the double bonus for the remainder of the contest, which proved to be vital to App State’s offensive aggression to close the game.
Forcing a KC Ibekwe turnover, the Mountaineers would storm down the court looking to trim the deficit. After nearly turning the ball over, Harcum would drive the paint and make an acrobatic layup with his left hand to trim the lead to just four with three minutes to play.
The Mountaineers would foul Dexter Akanno with two minutes to play, sending him to the line where he would make one of two free throws to push the lead back to three. On the other side of the floor, the Mountaineers would tie the game at 61 thanks to a clutch three-pointer by Christopher Mantis, his fourth of the game. Mantis has made at least three three-pointers in every game this season and now has 11 on the young season.
Mantis’ three would silence the Beaver faithful, but Ibekwe would answer right back with a put-back layup to give the Beavers the lead right back with 70 seconds to play. After a pair of misses by both teams, Mantis grabbed a defensive rebound with 14 seconds to play and dish to Gregory who advanced the ball up the floor.
He would attack the paint and muscle up a shot that was missed initially, but Oregon State failed to secure the possession and Gregory calmly tipped the ball back in as the horn sounded to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Gregory’s game-tying buzzer-beater would force App State’s first overtime game since last January when they went into overtime at Coastal Carolina.
The extra five minutes were all Beavers as Oregon State jumped out to a fast seven-point lead a little less than 90 seconds into the frame. An Akanno three-pointer in the corner off a nice find by Pope would help spark the run.
Gregory and the Mountaineers would trim the lead back to five with a driving layup to tie his season-high in points with 17. Despite the bucket by Gregory, a turnover and a made transition three by Pope would push the Beaver lead to 10 with 2:28 remaining in the contest and all but sink App State’s hopes of an impressive road win on Tuesday.
It was another strong second-half performance for App State on Tuesday as they would fight back from an 11-point halftime deficit to force the extra five minutes, but the Beavers’ would find their shooting stroke again in the overtime period and secure their third win of the year.
It was a strong night for a few Mountaineers on Tuesday against a high-major opponent. Gregory’s heroics in the second half would help lead the Mountaineer comeback as he would fill the stat sheet with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Harcum’s team-high 18 points set a new season-high for the junior as he was also a factor in the comeback, scoring nine second-half points. Abson notched a new season-high in points on Tuesday with 12 while also setting a career high with six blocks and recorded his first double-double of the year in a very strong showing. Xavion Brown’s defense on Jordan Pope in the second half was yet another reason the Mountaineers were able to come back in this game as he would hold Pope to just five second-half points on 2-5 shooting after scoring 17 points on 6-6 shooting in the first half.
The Mountaineers will have the next week to prepare for their next game, traveling to Fort Myers, Fla., to take on the UNC Wilmington Seahawks next Tuesday at the Fort Myers Tip-Off Event. Tip off from Suncoast Arena is set for noon.