Beavers exit on cue
LOS ANGELES — One of the most frustrating seasons for the Oregon State men’s basketball team came to an end Wednesday night.
Senior center Kyle Jeffers quickly left the locker room without talking and junior forward Sasa Cuic hinted he may not come back next season.
The Beavers were inconsistent in the first round of the Pacific-10 Conference Tournament, much like they were all season long.
A lack of outside shooting, experience and talent at the opponent’s level allowed California to take control after 10 minutes, and put the game away 70-51 in the Staples Center with a flurry of 3-pointers.
“It was phenomenal shooting from space and depth that we hadn’t seen before,” coach Jay John said. “Kudos to Cal. ... Cal shot us out of the game.”
The Golden Bears (15-16) strengthened their NIT hopes with the win and move into the quarterfinals at 2:50 p.m. today against fourth-ranked and top-seeded UCLA.
It was OSU’s third and worst loss to Cal this season. The previous two were by a combined seven points. The Beavers hoped to get a win and show progress.
Instead, the loss sends the Beavers (11-21) home with a three-game losing streak. They also matched the school record for most losses in a season done twice before, last in the 1995-96 season.
“I’m proud of my guys,” forward Marcel Jones said. “The year didn’t go as well as we wanted, but we fought and that’s all we could do.”
OSU began the game with a small lineup with forward Michael Johnson in the game instead of Cuic. It worked as the Beavers jumped out to a 13-6 lead by going inside and playing defense.
After a round of substitutions the players went away from that and took ill-fated 3-pointers, particularly Cuic. That turned the tide as Cal led 43-25 at halftime.
“We didn’t shoot it well,” John said. “We got a little nervous and we took 25 threes (making four), and we’re obviously not a good 3-point shooting team. ... All we did was feed Cal with bad shots and turnovers.”
Cal was 10-for-22 on 3-pointers in the first half, and 12-for-29 in the game. Ryan Anderson hit five 3-pointers and scored 20 points in the first half, ending the game with 27.
John used 12 of the 13 available players to give the young ones experience for next season. It was also out of desperation.
“We went with a lineup we haven’t seen before, but it settled some things down,” John said. “There were a whole bunch of people who got us in this mess. Josh (Tarver) getting his second foul early didn’t help us. It screwed up everything. Wes (Washington) is not a true point guard. Jack (McGillis) has a wonderful game at Cal and he hasn’t been able to make a basket since.”
Vojin Svilar played more than usual with 25 minutes, while Washington and Cuic sat out the second half. John didn’t like how Washington was running the team but wouldn’t elaborate on Cuic.
Cuic’s season was marred by a team suspension for attitude problems, and inconsistent play, given his potential.
He was upset for not going in the second half, and said this might have been his last game but he has time to think about his future.
Jones led the team with 21 points. The next highest scorer was Tarver with seven.
The Beavers made a comeback in the second half and cut the deficit to 10 when Cal relaxed to save energy for the Bruins.
It was similar to each game this season with the Bears, but they were too far behind to be in position for a last-second shot.
“We made too many turnovers and they capitalized on those and knocked down a bunch of 3s,” Tarver said. “They had a night. The turnovers in the first half killed us. Coming back from 18 down is pretty tough. Not many people can.”