The offense went dry down the stretch Thursday night, but Oregon State saw its defense save the day.
The Beavers scored just two points after Ethan Thompson’s jumper with four minutes left put them up seven. But they made it tough on California from there and held on for a 59-57 Pac-12 men’s basketball win at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
Cal had a chance in the closing seconds. Matt Bradley drove up the court but lost the ball, and OSU had its first win in 10 tries in Berkeley dating back to a victory in 2009.
After his team got off to a slow start to the game, Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle said his team fought hard defensively to be within five of the Golden Bears at halftime.
“Then we came out on fire in the second half to get stops and when we got the ball inside and executed offense we got great looks,” Tinkle said.
Senior center Roman Silva scored 13 of his career-best 15 points after halftime to lead the Beavers (12-11, 8-9), who won their second road game of the season.
Ethan Thompson added 12 points, Jarod Lucas 10 points and Warith Alatishe seven points and 11 rebounds, with 10 of his boards coming in the second half.
Silva’s third double-digit scoring game of the season helped OSU to a 38-20 advantage in points in the paint.
“Roman was a monster in the second half,” Tinkle said, noting that he wasn’t happy with how the big man started the game.
Bradley had 20 points for the Bears (8-18, 3-16), who shot 11 of 36 after starting 8 of 10.
With his team down seven, Cal’s Makale Foreman hit a 3-pointer with 3:28 left to cut into the deficit. OSU couldn’t score on its possession, but Zach Reichle deflected Foreman’s next 3-point attempt. That led to two free throws by Lucas with 2:24 to go that provided the last of the Beavers’ points.
Bradley made two free throws and teammates Andre Kelly added two of his own with 1:34 to go to close the gap to two.
OSU’s Gianni Hunt would miss a layin, but he stole the ball as Bradley drove to the basket on the other end. That allowed the Beavers to run time off the clock.
Lucas missed a jumper with about eight seconds remaining, leading to Cal’s final possession.
“I can’t say enough about the character of our guys that bought in, that got back to our page and the way we do things,” Tinkle said, noting what he called some “out-of-character decisions offensively” in the first half.
Oregon State shot 22 of 45 overall, 0 of 10 on 3-pointers and 15 of 17 on free throws. Cal was 19 of 49, 2 of 17 and 17 of 19, respectively.
Thursday’s game was the third matchup between the two teams this season. Oregon State won the first two, 71-63 on Nov. 25 in a nonconference game and 73-64 on Jan. 2 in a Pac-12 contest, both at Gill Coliseum.
It’s the first time in 24 years that OSU has played a conference opponent three times in a single regular season.
The Beavers opened the second half with a 9-0 run, taking their first lead in the process, for a 37-33 lead while getting scoring from four different players.
Bradley came back with four straight points to tie the game.
Silva answered with two baskets in a row to give him seven points in the first five-plus minutes after halftime. Thompson found Alatishe for a dunk to complete the Beavers 15-4 run for a 43-37 lead.
Silva later got an offensive putback to keep the Beavers in front. Cal closed within one before Thompson drove for a layin and Silva hit two foul shots with 8:07 left for a 49-44 advantage.
The Bears would pull back within three twice before Thompson found Reichle in transition and then hit Silva for another layin to give the Beavers a cushion.
It was a rough start for Oregon State.
Cal led 14-2 and later 22-11 behind a strong start by Andre Kelly, who had 11 of his team’s first 18 points as the Bears started 8 of 10 from the floor.
Oregon State climbed back in with a stretch of making 4 of 5 field goal attempts and 4 of 5 at the foul line. An 8-0 run, capped by a Dearon Tucker layin with 3:44 in the half to pull the Beavers within two.
Cal, which finished the half 4 of 11 from the floor, led 33-28 at halftime after shooting 12 of 21. Oregon State finished the half 4 of 6 to get to 9 of 20 at the half.
With a free throw late in the half, Thompson passed Charlie Sitton (1980-84) for eighth on OSU’s career scoring list.
Jesse Sowa can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter, @JesseSowaGT.