No. 12 seed Oregon State, picked to finish last in the Pac-12, eliminated fan favorite Loyola of Chicago 65-58 in an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 game on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Pac-12 teams now have a 10-1 record in the NCAA tournament, and at least two Pac-12 teams will be in the Elite Eight, since USC and Oregon play each other on Sunday. This is the first Elite Eight berth for Oregon State since 1982 when the Beavers lost to Georgetown in the regional finals 39 years ago. Oregon State is only the second 12th seed in history to reach the Elite Eight.
Oregon State's Elite Eight opponent on Monday night will be No. 2 seed Houston, a 27-3 team that leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense and is second in the country in scoring defense. The Cougars limited Syracuse to 46 points on 28% shooting in in their 62-46 victory over the Orange on Saturday night.
If the Beavers win on Monday they would become the lowest seeded team ever to reach the Final Four. Four teams seeded No. 11 got to the Final Four -- LSU (1986), George Mason (2006), VCU (2011), and Loyola Chicago (2018) -- and those four are the lowest seeds to get to the national semifinals.
Saturday's win was the sixth straight for the Beavers (20-12) and all six were upsets against teams that played in the NCAA tournament. A loss in any of those games, which included three in the Pac-12 tournament, would have ended the Beavers' season. But now they are one win from a Final Four berth after finishing tied for sixth in the Pac-12 standings.
"All I want to say is, 'Can we cut in?'" Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said afterward
Ethan Thompson led the Beavers with 22 points on Saturday. He played all 40 minutes and added four rebounds and four assists, and he did not commit a single turnover while being a primary ball-handler against the Ramblers tough man-to-man defense.
The Beavers won despite scoring just one point in the first 6:09 of the game, and they had just three points with 10:39 left in the first half. But they controlled play from that point, taking an eight-point lead at halftime and leading by as many as 13 points with 12:50 remaining in the second half.
The Ramblers got within three points with 3:31 left, and still trailed by just four points with 1:32 to go, but a three-point jumper by Jarod Lucas pushed the lead back to seven points with 1:09 remaining.
Here is that back-breaking Lucas shot:
The Beavers were outstanding from the foul line again, making 18 of 20 free throws after going 32-for-35 from line in the second-round win over Oklahoma State.
Eighth-seeded Loyola (26-5), which had defeated No. 1 seed Illinois in the previous round, shot just 17.4 percent in the first half. Loyola center Cameron Krutwig finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but he did not dominate the game as he had against Illinois. Oregon State's 7-foot-1 Roman Silva was the primary defender against Krutwig.
Oregon State switched often between a man-to-man defense to a zone defense, even switching defenses in the middle of a Loyola possession at times. Loyola never did solve it.
The Ramblers were just 5-for-23 from beyond the three-point arc as their luck ran out despite the presence of Sister Jean, Loyola's 101-year-old chaplain who is the Ramblers' most famous fan. game
Wayne Tinkle comment in postgame media interview:
Neither team did much on offense in the first 20 minutes, which ended with Oregon State holding a 24-16 lead. It was the lowest-scoring first half in the NCAA tournament. Oregon State was 8-for-24 from the field (33.3.%), and Loyola was 4-for-23, and made just 1 of 9 three-point shots. The Ramblers had more turnovers (five) than field goals (four) in the first half.
Thompson led the Beavers with 10 points, and Warith Alatishe scored at the halftime buzzer to make it an eight-point lead.
The Beavers' offense got off to a terrible start against a tough Loyola defense that leads the nation in scoring defense, yielding just 55.8 points per game.
Oregon State missed its first six shots from the floor, and nine minutes into the game it had more turnovers (five) than points (three). The Beavers were fortunate to be trailing only by six points, at 9-3 with 11 minutes remaining in the half, as their defense did its part.
Ethan Thompson's postgame comments followed by Wayne Tinkle's compete postgame interview. (Thompson's comments start about four minutes into the video after technical problems fixed.)
Oregon State took the lead at 10-9 on a Maurice Calloo jumper with 8:17 to go before Loyola scored to end its scoreless run that lasted more than six minutes.
A bucket my Roman Silva with 3:52 left gave the Beavers a four-point advantage at 20-16.
Cover photo of Oregon State's Ethan Thompson and coach Wayne Tinkle by Marc Lebryk.
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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