Denver (9-5, 0-1) had the basketball and trailed by one-point in a highly contested game with less than 30 seconds to go in Corvallis, Oregon. Unfortunately, a Denver turnover thwarted the upset bid with the Pioneers eventually falling on free throws to the Oregon State Beavers, 57-52. Before the game, coach Jeff Wulbrun implored his team to step up their defense and “be a player-led team”. They did just that but just came up short Wednesday night following a strong effort.
Both teams started the game with stout defense and Denver led 4-1 five minutes into the half. A Tyree Corbett layup and dunk gave DU an 8-1 advantage. It took seven and a half minutes into the game before OSU got their first field goal. Denver led 8-5 at the media timeout at 11:47. Denver led 10-5 ten minutes into the game. At the 7:49 media timeout, Denver extended the lead to 14-5 off a pair of steals and a Bruner jumper. OSU got on a scoring run and earned their first lead at 5:13 on a Glenn Taylor, Jr. lay-up on a 10-0 run. The teams were knotted at 18 all at the 2:28 media timeout. A hook shot by Tyler Bilodeau ended the half, 20-18, OSU.
Tyree Corbett led DU with 8 points and 4 rebounds in a high-energy first-half effort. Denver went 0-8 from distance and had 8 turnovers to 9 for the Beavers in a defensive struggle.
In the first three and a half minutes, Denver fell behind by 7 before a timely layup by Touko Tainamo started a Denver surge. A pair of free throws by Tommy Bruner finally pulled DU back even, 30-30, at 13:27. The teams traded points until the 8-minute mark, 38-38, capped by a pair of free throws by OSU’s Michael Rataj. Marko Lukic gave Denver the lead 40-38 with 7:25 remaining. A layup by Justin Mullins, a jumper by Tommy Bruner and a layup by Marko Lukic gave Denver a 46-38 lead at 4:54. Following a pair of Lukas Kisunas free throws, OSUwent on a scoring run when Dzmitry Ryuny nailed a 3-point shot for the OSU lead,49-48, with a 1:53 remaining. A Kisunas’ second chance lay-up gave DU the lead, 52-51, with 40 seconds remaining. The teams traded their final punches as two Jordan Pope free throws gave OSU the lead again with 28 seconds remaining. Denver had their chance with 14 seconds remaining following a 30-second timeout. Trailing by one point, 53-52, DU’s Mullins stepped out of bounds on a sideline pass to give OSU the ball and the game. Free throws followed with a final score of 57-52. While Denver has won their fair share of tight games this season, Wulbrun summed it up best, “We struggled to get it across the finish line.”
The difference may have been all 11 missed three-point shots in the tight loss. The defensive effort was significantly better than the prior game at Omaha. After the game, Wulbrun stated, “Really proud of them (the team). Every way I challenged them (over the past 24-24 hours) they responded. We protected the paint like it mattered. Our best defensive effort. If they continue to play this way, we’re going to be on the right side of these games. ”
Corbett’s 9 points fueled Denver in the first half and Kusunas, Tainamo and Bruner all finished with 10 points. Denver broke even with the Beavers on rebounds, 33 each, and Denver had the field goal advantage 41% to 35%. Denver only had 12 turnovers, 4 in the second half – the final miscue the most painful.
Denver has a Christmas break and returns home to face UMKC at Hamilton Arena at 7:00 pm MT on Thursday, December 29th.