Dance on, Oregon State.
Former Montana Grizzly player and coach Wayne Tinkle and his Oregon State men's basketball team continued their Cinderella run through the NCAA Tournament on Saturday as No. 12 OSU topped No. 8 Loyola-Chicago 65-58 in the Sweet 16 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Ethan Thompson led the Beavers (20-12) with 22 points while Warith Alatishe added 10 points and 11 rebounds. After starting 11-11 on the season, Oregon State, which was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 Conference at the beginning of the season, has won nine of its last 10 games, including wins over Tennessee and Oklahoma State in the tournament.
It's Oregon State's first appearance in the Elite 8 since 1982, a season that was later vacated by the NCAA. Prior to that, OSU's last run this far into the tournament was 1966.
The Beavers overcame a slow start against the Ramblers. Loyola-Chicago led 9-3 with Oregon State not getting its first field goal to go until the 13:51 mark in the first half. Oregon State started 3 for 12 from the field as well.
However, after trailing 9-3, Tinkle and his team switched to a zone defense that caused fits for the Ramblers. Loyola-Chicago took a 16-13 lead with 5:48 to play but didn't score again in the first half as the Beavers went on an 11-0 run to take a 24-16 lead at the halftime break.
OSU forced more Loyola-Chicago turnovers (5) than the Ramblers made field goals in the first half as the Ramblers went 4 for 23 in the first half of the game.
The Beavers ballooned their lead to 13 points in the second half with a 37-24 advantage after a dunk by Thompson on a long pass from Alatishe. However, Loyola-Chicago got back within three, 47-44, with 3:31 to play. The teams traded buckets from there before OSU gained an edge, 56-49, after a 3-pointer from Jarod Lucas with 1:12 to go. Free throws from Thompson, Alatishe and Zach Reichle iced the game from there.
Tinkle, who is in his seventh season coaching the Beavers after coaching at Montana for eight years, is the first former Griz coach to advance to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament since Mike Montgomery did in 2001 with Stanford. Prior to that, Montgomery, who coached at Montana from 1978-86, went to the Final 4 with Stanford in 1998, and Jud Heathcote did it with Michigan State when the Magic Johnson-led Spartans won the national championship in 1979. Heathcote, who coached the Grizzlies from 1971-76, also went to the Elite 8 with Michigan State in 1978.
Oregon State will play No. 2 Houston in the Elite 8 after the Cougars defeated Syracuse on Saturday night. Houston is led by former Montana Tech coach Kelvin Sampson.