Oregon State

Oregon State's 'unbelievable ride' continues through Sweet 16

Oregon State

For the first time in 39 years, the Oregon State Beavers are headed to the Sweet 16 following a 10-point win over the No. 4-seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Round of 32. 

[RELATED]: Oregon State advances to the Sweet 16 for first time in 39 years

"It means everything," explained guard Ethan Thompson after the win. "I'm extremely blessed. All glory to God for our team as well as myself, Zach Reichle, our last year as seniors on the team, to be able to continue our season as far as we can."

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"Just super proud of the group," said head coach Wayne Tinkle. "This has been an unbelievable ride we're on."

In the past 10 days, Oregon State has won five consecutive win-or-go-home games, all against teams that made the NCAA Tournament: UCLA, Oregon, Colorado, Tennessee and now Oklahoma State. 

Throughout the process, everyone inside the Oregon State program believed in one another and played for each other. 

"Kind of just the same thing that's been getting us through all these past... few games. Just leaning on each other... believing in ourselves," said Thompson. 

"We believe that we're capable of doing great things. Whether that be getting a much-needed stop on defense, breaking the press, taking care of the ball, just take it step by step. If we take all the right steps, they're going to lead to wins." 

 

It was not the prettiest performance, however, with the Beavers nearly blowing an 18-point lead due to an inability to break a press. 

After the game, Wayne Tinkle said he would not have believed you if he had heard they would win the game after committing 20 turnovers.

"We had some uncharacteristic turnovers, from young and old," the head coach added. 

He mentioned Gianni Hunt being out for the second half hurt the Beavers in terms of dealing with the Cowboys' backcourt pressure. 

However, the team never panicked and continued to fight.

"We didn't panic. We told them to hang in there," Tinkle said. "When we used a timeout there late we said 'Hey they're a hell of a team. That's their run. Now let's close it out.'"

This Beavers team was chosen to finish last in the conference, overcame a 16-point deficit in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, and now, were just three minutes and 39 seconds away from the program's first Sweet 16 in 39 years. 

Oregon State came out of the timeout, having soaked in Tinkle's message and went on a 8-0 run to put the game away. 

"I think we've always had that confidence, but it kind of took us -- we had to take a further step to kind of believe in ourselves and believe and trust in each other. As you can see, these wins that we've been having have been great team efforts." said Thompson. 

Thompson credited his team's resolve all season. The Beavers lost to Portland and Wyoming in December, two losses bad enough to all-but-disqualify them from at-large consideration. Still, the program kept working with the goal of winning the Pac-12 despite all odds.

"Just stay positive," remembered Thompson. "We did that. We did stay positive. We knew it was in us, this success. We pictured it from the beginning. Being able to believe, again, and just take it day by day, staying positive every day, even with the tough losses early.

"Honestly, I'll take the tough losses early because I think it taught us a lot of lessons on how to close out games, and we're closing out games at the right time."

Now three months later, Oregon State is one of the best stories to come out of the men's NCAA Tournament. 

However, Tinkle added he could not care less if outside noise labels his team a Cinderella story. 

"Call us whatever you want. Believe me, I've been called all sorts of stuff. I could [not] care less. We're moving onto the Sweet 16." 

Regardless of the label put on this Beavers team, it's been a run no one in Corvallis will ever forget.

"I'm grateful for it," said Thompson about making the Sweet 16. "I just got a feeling that I don't want it to stop"

 

Oregon State will play No. 8 seed Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16 next weekend on Saturday, March 27 at 11:40 a.m. PT on CBS.