CORVALLIS, Ore. – After an emotional Senior Day presentation, Joe Burton filled up the box score with 15 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals, but Oregon State was unable to claw all the way back in a 60-59 loss to California Saturday afternoon at Gill Coliseum.
Burrton, playing in his 126th career game and his final one at Gill Coliseum, was the lone senior honored before the game and eclipsed the 700 rebound and 300 assist marks, as the Beavers wore turquoise Nike uniforms to honor the center.
Oregon State (13-15, 3-12 Pac-12) struggled early and fell behind by 14 points at the 9:25 mark of the first half, before battling back to make it a one-point game with 43 seconds to play. After Justin Cobbs missed a jumper and Burton grabbed the rebound, the Beavers called a timeout with 4.3 seconds to play.
Ahmad Starks took the inbounds pass from Burton, raced up the court, got a good look at the basket but missed the game-winning shot at the buzzer. It was the seventh time this season the Beavers lost by five points or less.
“This was an all-too familiar position, but I am really proud of our guys,” Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson said. “I know I keep saying that, but you look at our efforts in games that don’t mean as much for us right now, and to see our guys go out and battle the way they did, especially after a rough start. As a coaching staff, it’s hard not to admire guys like that. It was a very emotional start to the game and I thought that is what did it to us.
“I think we were all trying so hard, and we were getting the shots that we wanted, they just weren’t going in. I think if we made a couple of those early then it’s a little bit of a closer game where we are not fighting back and then have to kind of come up with some magic at the end.”
California (18-9, 10-5) jumped ahead 24-10 and looked to be in complete control before turning the ball over and missing out on fast break opportunities before taking a 29-20 lead to the locker room at halftime. The Golden Bears built the lead back to 35-22 before the Beavers went on a 20-10 run to cut the lead to 45-42 with 8:32 to play.
Devon Collier made a layup on a sweet dish from Burton to cut the deficit to 58-55 with 1:47 left then went 4-for-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to cut it to 60-59 and set up the final 43 seconds.
Eric Moreland had eight points, 14 rebounds and three steals, while Collier added 13 points and five boards off the bench. Roberto Nelson finished with 10 points and came just two points short of joining the 1,000-point club.
But the story of the game was Burton, who sported an orange Mohawk for his final game, and was emotional during the pregame festivities and even more so during the postgame press conference.
The crowd of 6,034 was the loudest and most energetic of the year at Gill Coliseum, and Robinson and Burton both thanked everyone afterwards for showing up and providing support.
“The emotions before the game and my family walking out and my grandpa rolling out onto the court just brought tears to their faces and joy that I have completed my college career of basketball at home,” Burton said. “We still have games, obviously. Besides that, I just want to thank the fans that came out to the game. A lot of fans came out for Senior Day and we gave them a good show until the very end.”
Cobbs led the Golden Bears with 18 points, while Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12′s leading scorer entering the game, was held to six points on 2-of-12 shooting.
Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson:
Oregon State guard Roberto Nelson and forward Joe Burton: