Pac-12 in Elite Eight: Oregon State Rally Falls Short in Loss to Houston

Beavers' hope of becoming the lowest seeded team ever to reach the Final Four is dashed
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Despite a remarkable second-half rally, Oregon State's bid to become the lowest seeded team ever to reach the Final Four came to a halt on Monday night in Indianapolis.

No. 2 seed Houston dominated the offensive boards and held on for a 67-61 victory over 12th-seeded Oregon State in an NCAA tournament Elite Eight game.

Houston held a 17-point halftime lead and was still ahead by 14 points with 9:30 left in the second half before Oregon State made its run. A 10-0 spurt got the Beavers within four points at the 6:24 mark, and Oregon State eventually tied the game at 55-55 when Gianni Hunt banked in a three-point shot with 3:45 remaining.

But Houston's Quentin Grimes immediately responded with a three-pointer, and the Cougars held on from there.

Houston (28-3) advances to the Final Four for the first time since 1984, and will face No. 1 seed Baylor in the national semifinals.

The Beavers (20-13) exceeded all expectations by getting this far, after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12 and finishing tied for sixth in the Pac-12 standings. They proceeded to win six consecutive games in which they were the underdogs. And they were hoping to get a historic berth in the Final Four. Four No. 11 seeds have reached the Final Four in NCAA tournament history, but that is the lowest seed to get to the national semifinals.

The difference ultimately was Houston's work on the offensive boards, and the Houston defense on Beavers' star Ethan Thompson. 

The Cougars had an outrageous 19 offensive rebounds, helping them get 15 more field-goal attempts than Oregon State. Even though the the Beavers shot 46.8 percent from the field compared with 32.6 percent for Houston, the Cougars made up for it with all those extra shots.

They also limited Thompson, who had averaged 20.3 points in the first three tournament games, to 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting.  He had only one point in the first half, thanks largely to the defense of DeJon Jarreau, the American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year.

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson and players' postgame interviews:

Pac-12 teams have a 12-3 record in the NCAA tournament with two more teams (USC and UCLA) having a chance to reach the Final Four in Tuesday's Elite Eight game.

Marcus Sasser led the Cougars with 20 points, and Grimes had 18. Maurice Calloo led Oregon State with 13.

Houston leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense and is second in scoring defense, and the Cougars shut down the Beavers' attack in the first half.

The Cougars made only 35.3 percent of their shots in the first half compared with Oregon's State's 35 percent, but Houston attempted 14 more shots from the field than the Cougars (34-20).

That's because the Cougars had eight offensive rebounds, while the Beavers had just one, and Houston committed just three turnovers in the first 20 minutes compared to eight turnovers by Oregon State.

The Beavers also hurt themselves by making just 1 of 6 free throws in the first half.

Thompson had just one point at halftime, missing all four of his field-goal attempts. 

The Beavers were 15-for-27 from the field (55.6 percent) after halftime, and did not commit their first turnover of the second half until just 47 seconds remained in the game. However, its chances of pulling off a seventh straight upset had passed.

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Cover photo of Ethan Thompson and DeJon Jarreau by Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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