CALDWELL, ID. – No. 22 Oregon Tech (8-4, 0-1 CCC) fell just short of a huge upset of No. 2 College of Idaho (12-1, 1-0 CCC) Friday night as a Matt Van Tassell 35-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer just missed allowing the Yotes to hold on for a slim 71-68 win in the Cascade Conference opener for both teams at the J.A. Albertson Center.
“That was one heck of a road effort,” said Head Coach Justin Parnell. “College of Idaho is an outstanding team and I’m proud of the way we battled them at their place in front of a big crowd. We are getting close to playing 40 minutes of basketball but still are having 2-3 minute lapses where we take quick shots and struggle in transition defense. I have no doubt we will continue to get better with these guys.”
Tech began the first half with a three-pointer from junior Tyler Hieb, holding the lead for a few minutes before the Coyotes jumped ahead with a 13-2 run. However, the Owls were able to retake the lead at the end of the first half with an 11-2 run pushing them to a two-point advantage at the half.
The second half saw the Coyotes start off with a 19-4 run, propelling them to their largest lead of 11 points. Though the Hustlin’ Owls immediately followed with an 11-2 run and later a 7-2 run to close the gap to 70-68. The Owls then gained possession with 24 seconds remaining but turned the ball over without getting a shot and were called for a foul with just 3.8 second remaining. Palu-Thompson made one of two free-throws’ allowing for the Van Tassell desperation three at the buzzer.
Junior Mitchell Fink led the Owls with 14 points as he moved up to 22nd All-Time at OIT passing Coach Parnell with 1,151 points for his career. Junior Seth Erickson had 12 points and six assists while Hieb tallied 12 points. Sophomore Garret Albrecht led the Owls with seven rebounds while adding eight points.
The Owls ended with only 12 turnovers to COI’s 16 and were able to make 20 points off those turnovers to the Coyote’s 10.
The College of Idaho had a 40-35 advantage in rebounding.
The Hustlin’ Owls will return to Oregon on Saturday to challenge Eastern Oregon University in La Grande at 7:30 pm, EOU downed No. 13 Southern Oregon 83-77 Friday night.