SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Roberto Nelson scored a game-high 18 points and Challe Barton added a career-high 15 to lead Oregon State in a 72-61 loss to Utah Thursday night at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The Beavers (13-17, 3-14 Pac-12) trailed 30-26 at halftime before Utah (12-17-4-13) opened the second frame on a 21-9 run to lead 51-35 at the 13:41 mark. Oregon State was unable to get it to single digits the rest of the way despite shooting 54.2 percent in the second half.
“I didn’t like our energy level the whole night,” Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson said. “We were playing in that first half only down three or six there, but we couldn’t get our energy level up. I take most of the blame for that. I need to have these guys prepared to hit the ground running, especially when we come up here.
“When you’re down at this end of the standings, you’re really playing to get ready for the conference tournament. That’s first and foremost. Secondly, this is the first really poor conference game, or non-conference game we’ve played. We’ve been in every single game we’ve played this season, so I’m willing to look at this as an anomaly as long as we come back on Saturday and play more like we are used to.”
Barton knocked down a career-high five three-pointers and scored in double figures for the second time in his career. The 15 points was a career best to better the 11 he scored in the win at Washington State on Feb. 13.
Nelson scored in double figures for the 15th game in a row and the 26th time this season. Devon Collier was the other Oregon State player in double figures with 10 points, while Eric Moreland had 11 rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and three steals.
Utah had four players in double figures, led by 17 by Jordan Loveridge and 15 apiece from Jarred DuBois and Jason Washburn, who reached the 1,000-point mark in his career with a layup in the first half. Brandon Taylor chipped in 12 points, and Loveridge added a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Beavers will play their regular-season finale Saturday at 1:30 p.m. PT against Colorado in Boulder in a game televised on the Pac-12 Networks. The pairings for the Pac-12 Tournament will be announced after all of the conference games have been played on Saturday.
“If I didn’t think we could turn things around, I wouldn’t be so truthful about it,” Robinson said. “I just think this was an anomaly and I think we can turn this around on Saturday. And, especially, we can turn it around for next week in Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament.”