What a great win for the Beavers on Saturday night. They improved to 3-2 in Pac-12 play, earned their first conference road win, and rebounded from a tough loss Thursday to Washington.
With a few minutes left in the first half, I said to a friend that if OSU held Washington State to under 20 points in the half, they’d win. Sure enough, the Cougars went into the half with only 16 points, and the Beavers never looked back en route to a 62-47 victory.
Despite having very little depth and Gary Payton II and Malcolm Duvivier playing the entire game, the Beavers shut down a team that was coming off a 108-point effort against Oregon, holding the Cougars to 29 percent shooting from the field, including 20 percent from behind the arc.
For the Beavers to play suffocating defense as long as they did is truly impressive. Playing zone defense is no easy task. In addition to needing to be in the right spot, it also requires players to exert a lot of energy and effort. But so far, even with depth issues, the Beavers are executing the zone well.
Entering this season, who thought defense, let alone zone defense, would be a strength for the Beavers? (Not me!) Especially considering their struggles at that end of the floor in recent years. But the players are buying into Coach Tinkle’s emphasis on defense — and the results so far are surprising, in a good way of course. Consider the numbers, if you will.
The Beavers rank second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (56.2 points, just behind conference-leading Utah’s 56.1); second in field goal percentage defense (36 percent); first in 3-point percentage defense (28 percent); and first in steals per game (7.7)!
I know, hard to believe, isn’t it? Those numbers certainly are welcome sight. Of course, the big question is can the Beavers keep up their defensive intensity as the season wears on? They will definitely need to stay healthy. Another key will be to keep communicating with each other, as well as trust everyone to be in the right position.
Prior to this season, many Beaver fans, myself included, thought that it would be hustle and grit that would carry the team this season. At this point, though, it’s safe to say that defense is the Beavers’ calling card… and you know what, it’s nice to be wrong when it comes to pleasant surprises. 🙂
Go Beavs! (RW)