Sports

Houston weathers furious Oregon State rally to make Final Four


The Houston Cougars celebrate after defeating the Oregon State Beavers in the Elite Eight round of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by ANDY LYONS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Marcus Sasser scored 20 points, Quentin Grimes added 18 and the second-seeded Houston Cougars turned another exceptional rebounding effort into a 67-61 win over the Oregon State Beavers on Monday in the Midwest Region final of the NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Cougars (28-3) advanced to their first Final Four since 1984 and will play South Region champion Baylor next. The top-seeded Bears (26-2) defeated third-seeded Arkansas 81-72 in a later game Monday.

Houston survived a gritty performance from the 12th-seeded Beavers (20-13), who erased a 17-point halftime deficit and pulled even at 55-55 on a Gianni Hunt 3-pointer with 3:46 left to play.

But Houston held firm.

Grimes drilled a 3 on the ensuing possession following a Fabian White Jr. offensive rebound. Grimes added two free throws a minute later following his rebound of a DeJon Jarreau missed 3. The Beavers followed with a pair of turnovers inside the final minute, their first of the second half.

Houston finished with a plus-12 rebounding advantage that included 19 offensive rebounds, which tied a season-high for an Oregon State opponent. Seven different Cougars corralled at least one offensive board with White and Justin Gorham grabbing five each. Gorham finished with a game-high 10 rebounds while Jarreau posted 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Sasser and Grimes shot a combined 9 of 23 on 3-point tries.

The Beavers were overwhelmed on the glass and undone by 11-for-20 free-throw shooting. Oregon State, picked to finish last in the Pac-12, clawed back by stuffing Houston with a 1-3-1 zone but couldn’t muster enough offense to forge a lead.

Maurice Calloo led the Beavers with 13 points while their leading scorer, Ethan Thompson, tallied 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists — but missed 9 of 12 shots.

Houston, the first team to defeat four double-digit seeds, advanced to its sixth Final Four.

The Cougars fashioned a 7-0 rally to an early 12-4 lead and later closed the first half with a 9-0 surge. Houston played at its pace on both ends, pounding the offensive glass while earning 14 more field-goal attempts than Oregon State, an advantage buoyed by eight Beavers turnovers.

Oregon State had more turnovers than field goals in the first half, shooting 7 of 20. Thompson scored just one point before the break, missing all four of his shot attempts.

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