Oregon State’s heavily retooled Beavers couldn’t have left a better impression Monday night, rallying from 19 points down to beat Tulsa 73-70 in the men’s basketball season opener at Gill Coliseum.
The Beavers, trailing 41-22 late in the first half, stormed from behind during the second half as guards Dexter Akanno, Glenn Taylor Jr. and Jordan Pope combined for 53 points.
Oregon State took the lead for good at 66-64 on a pair of Akanno free throws with three minutes remaining. The Beavers stretched the lead to six, then held off a last-minute Tulsa response to take the season opener.
Pope, playing his first college game, led OSU with 19 points. Akanno went 6 of 6 from the free throw line down the stretch and scored 18, while Taylor had 16. During the second half, OSU attacked the basket, leading to parade to the foul line. The Beavers were 17 of 21 at the free throw line during the second half.
The Beavers overcame a 29-point performance by Tulsa guard Sam Griffin.
Oregon State is going through a massive rebuild after going 3-28 last season. The Beavers return only four players from the 2021-22 squad, and only two played meaningful minutes in Glenn Taylor Jr. and Dexter Akanno.
This year’s team includes three transfers and eight freshmen.
The start was promising. Akanno banked in a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer to get things started. Four minutes later, the Beavers were 6 of 6 from the floor and had a 13-7 lead.
Tulsa, also rebuilding with a first-year coach though with veteran, accomplished players, didn’t flinch. The Golden Hurricane, led by Griffin, scored 15 consecutive points to erase the deficit. The Beavers offense was a mess, between missed shots and turnovers. They weren’t effective in slowing down Tulsa’s perimeter, which bagged seven three-pointers during the first half.
The Golden Hurricane led by as many as 19 points and settled for a 44-28 halftime lead.
Oregon State showed some moxie coming out of halftime. The Beavers opened the second half on a 14-0 run, as Pope hit a pair of three pointers.
OSU, within two points of Tulsa at 44-42, continued to keep pace. The Beavers trailed 55-51 with 8:30 remaining when Griffin gave Tulsa an eight-point cushion with a pair of buckets.
Oregon State continued to surge. The Beavers went on a 10-0 run, taking a 61-59 lead on two free throws by Akanno with five minutes remaining.
A couple minutes later, Oregon State scored seven consecutive points, finishing with an Akanno steal and layup for a 70-64 lead.
Nick Daschel reported from Corvallis