Oregon State erased a 10-point Rams lead with just under 10 minutes left to play in today’s first round NCAA tournament matchup. Finding themselves down 51-49, an experienced black and gold group led by JeQuan Lewis and Mo Alie-Cox answered the Beavers run with a 13-3 run of their own, giving themselves a large enough cushion they would ride to a 75-67 victory.
The win was Will Wade’s first NCAA tournament win as a head coach and the Rams first since Wade’s last season as an assistant three seasons ago.
Alie-Cox and Lewis combined for 10 of the Rams 13 during that key run, Lewis finishing with a game-high 21 points to go with a game-high eight assists as well, Alie-Cox checking in with 20 points for himself and a game-high eight rebounds for the Rams.
The Rams didn’t have their best shooting night but helped negate that by dominating the paint, socring 46 points in the paint on 63% shooting inside the arc and out-rebounding Oregon State 40-28.
Melvin Johnson added 12 points for the Rams in today’s win but was an un-Melvin 1-8 from three-point land. His one make from distance however couldn’t have been any more timely, regaining the Rams lead at 52-51 after OSU had briefly gained control and momentum during the second half.
Oklahoma product Korey Billbury chipped in six points in front of a large group of family and friends. He was 2-6 from the field.
The win advances the Rams to the second round of this year’s tournament where they’ll take on the winner of second-seeded Oklahoma and 15-seed Cal State Bakersfield.