Beavers Clinch Winning Season With 83-69 Win Over Colorado
March 3, 2012
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Playing inspired basketball after an emotional Senior Day presentation for Kevin McShane, Oregon State (17-13, 7-11 Pac-12) rolled past Pac-12 Conference newcomer Colorado, 83-69, on Saturday afternoon at Gill Coliseum, helping the Beavers clinch only their second winning season in 22 years.
Kevin, the son of Oregon State legend Bill McShane, joined the program as a walk-on in 2008 and will leave as a three-time team captain and one of the most inspirational student-athletes in OSU history. He was rewarded with the starting nod against Colorado after being introduced 12 minutes prior to the game to a standing ovation and an emotional embrace with head coach Craig Robinson.
"It is not my style to start a senior, just because he is a senior," Robinson said. "I used to be a player and I always felt that if you earned your starting position, you earned your starting position. I was wrestling with starting Kevin, until Angus Brandt walked up to me and volunteered his spot for Kevin. That speaks volumes about this team."
After leading 30-27 at halftime, the Beavers scored 53 second half points as they dove for loose balls, scrambled for rebounds and hit plenty of shots that were McShane-like in regards to their hustle and determination to win the game.
"What you saw today was a team that played like Kevin McShane," Robinson said. "This was a Kevin McShane day from start to finish. The way we followed the game plan, playing defense and hustling to balls. I think everybody dove for a ball today. I hadn't seen that. And then wire-to-wire man-to-man. That had Kevin written all over it."
The Beavers erased a two-point second half deficit with a 28-6 run thanks in part to the blistering shooting exhibition by guard Ahmad Starks. The sophomore point guard scored 16 of his game-high 18 points within the run, including 14 consecutive to put the game away.
"The coaches in the locker room before the second half just kept telling me to be ready," Starks said. "That is just what I tried to do by staying loose and warming up well at halftime; that was the most shots I have hit in a row."
OSU built the lead to as many as 24 points in the second half on the legs of 69 percent shooting from the field and concluded the game with an accuracy of nearly 54 percent.
The Beavers led by as many as eight points in the first half and forced 11 Colorado turnovers. Roberto Nelson had nine of his 16 points in the opening stanza.
In addition to Starks' and Nelson's numbers, Jared Cunningham added 15 points for his 22nd consecutive game in double figures and in the process moved to 21st on the OSU all-time scoring list with 1,173 career points.
"I could not be happier with that ball club," Robinson said. "I've been saying all year long how much fun it is to coach these guys. No matter what, even when we were on that multi-game skid, they came to work every day like professionals."
With a 17-13 record, Oregon State clinched a winning season for just the second time since 1990 when Gary Payton was a senior and the Beavers last advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The other winning season was 2004-05 when the Beavers went 17-15 and lost in the first round of the NIT Tournament.
Colorado (19-11, 11-7) was led by Askia Booker's 15 points.
The Beavers will be looking to play the revenge card against the Washington State Cougars as the two teams will meet in the first game of next week's Pac-12 Tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday at noon in a game being televised live by FSN.
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