HOOPS: Another furious comeback falls shy

LATHEN WALLACE

OH, WHY THE HECK NOT. It's Oregon State on the hardcourt, after all, and this is what they do. Dig a big hole. Stage a furious rally. But the depth and breadth of the hole, in the end, proves too much. And so, another heartbreaker, this one a 63-59 loss to Oregon, and another night of what-ifs for head man Craig Robinson. Still, watching Lathen Wallace lead the Beavs back, it was a sight to see.

Oregon State looked like they were moving at half-speed, stunned by an over-active Oregon squad for most of the first half.

The Ducks forged a monstrous 17-point lead, and it looked like it was going to do nothing but get worse for the Beaver Faithful.

But then Lathen Wallace brought them back.

Long range stand-still treys. Twisting, turning drives in the paint. Sky-high rebounds. Assists. Defense. Wallace did it all.

And in the last three minutes of the first half, he was the driving force behind OSU trimming a 17-point deficit to nine.

His three-ball at the 13:28 mark of the second half trimmed the lead to a single point, at 38-37.

And then he drilled one from beyond the arc to give Oregon State the lead, 40-38.

The 9,836 black and orange partisans at Gill were going nuts.

Alas, Wallace would score only two more points, on free throws, and OSU faded down the stretch. They had a chance at the end to tie or force overtime, but sloppy play resulted in missed opportunities or turnovers,

Usual scoring machine Jared Cunningham was saddled with two early fouls, and played only nine minutes of the first half. He never quite found his rhythm, finishing with nine points on 2-7 shooting.

But Cunningham can't be expected to do it all every single night -- and teams are starting to defend him differently, whether through a box-and-one or something more exotic.

Besides Wallace, Roberto Nelson was the only Beav who scored in double figures, but his 11 points came on 5-14 shooting.

More importantly, the Beavers just weren't active enough, on either end.

They didn't play, consistently, with enough energy.

When OSU does that, when they play like their hair was on fire, they can give anyone a run for their money. But that consistency that Robinson is searching for, it remains elusive.

The box score from Saturday's tilt can be found here.

The Beavs (8-10, 3-4 Pac-10), head to Cal and Stanford this coming week. First up, they meet the Golden Bears on Thursday in a nationally televised game on FSN.

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