Olaf Schaftenaar

Oregon State freshman gets technical for dunking pregame, Beavers lose by 1 to Cal

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Olaf Schaftenaar was making the first start of his career Saturday for Oregon State after averaging 4.0 points and 1.2 rebounds per game off the bench to begin the year. But before his day against Cal could officially start, he made a mistake.

In pregame layup lines, Schaftenaar dunked which, as harmless as it may sound, is a technical foul. Cal’s Allen Crabbe was given two free throws and he hit one of two. That made the score 1-0 when the game tipped off moments later.

For much of the game, the miscue did not seem to matter. Cal led by nine points at halftime and pushed the lead to as much as 13 in the second half. But then the Beavers came back.

Ahmad Starks and Joe Burton led an Oregon State comeback that gave the Beavers a chance to win, down 60-59 with possession of the ball and four seconds remaining. OSU inbounded to Starks, who had to dribble the length of the floor and fire a three from the left wing that was no good. One point loss, 60-59.

Is it entirely Schaftenaar’s fault? Of course not. There are too many factors going into a basketball game to pinpoint a small pregame technical and make it the scapegoat. Oregon State could have just as easily converted one more free throw (15-of-23 on the night) and hypothetically tied the game, as well.

But it is the type of play that underscores the problem. It was a small mistake that could have determined the outcome and a series of those does not help a team that finds itself 3-12 in the Pac-12. The accumulation of these small mistakes could have turned the tide in previous three-point losses to Cal and Washington State, as well as one-point losses to USC and Towson.

It’s all theoretical, but it could mean the difference between the bottom of the conference and an NIT berth.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: