Burton's last game in Gill
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 01:02
Saturday was Joe Burton’s day.
The senior forward, playing in his final game at Gill Coliseum, did everything he could to will the Beavers to a victory. But in the end the home team fell short, losing to California, 60-59.
Burton, rocking a bright-red mohawk that nicely complemented OSU’s turquoise N7 jerseys, finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals to lead the Beavers in most of the statistics in the box score. After the game, Burton was overcome with emotion.
“I am going to miss the team and playing basketball with these guys,” Burton said, tears rolling down his face. “I just gave everything to Oregon State and I am so glad that so many supporters came out to watch.”
Junior guard Roberto Nelson was emotional too, having known Burton since playing AAU ball with him in middle and high school.
“Being as close as I was to Joe — he was really the reason that I came here — I don’t even consider him a friend anymore, he is definitely a brother to me,” Nelson said. “It is sad that we didn’t get a chance to go out with a win and with a bang at home, but we definitely fought hard as a team and showed a lot of fight as we have in the past games.”
Despite a good-sized crowd in Gill, an emotional pregame ceremony to honor Burton and to announce the creation of a scholarship in his name, the Beavers got off to an awful start. The Beavers only scored 20 first-half points, their lowest in any half this season. They also only shot 21.6 percent from the field in the first half, and Cal went in to halftime leading 29-20.
Head coach Craig Robinson’s frustration was apparent and he received a technical foul eight minutes into the game after yelling at the referee about a Cal player grabbing freshman Olaf Schaftenaar’s jersey.
“I am still 100 percent consistent, whenever I get a tech, it’s because I am right,” Robinson said. “I have never been wrong and gotten a tech. You never get a technical for being wrong because it doesn’t upset the person who calls the tech.”
The second half started out as badly as the first had ended for Oregon State, as Cal went up by 13 points at the 16:59 mark. The Beavers weren’t about to give up on Senior Day, though, and battled back, cutting the Cal lead to three points with 9:24 left. Junior forward Devon Collier, who finished with 13 points — his highest total since Jan. 26 — scored six points in the final two minutes to bring OSU within one point with 47 seconds left.
After Cal got the ball back following the made free throws, OSU elected not to foul and hoped for a miss and a chance to win the game.
“Had Devon missed his two [free throws], we would have fouled right away and hoped that he would miss a foul shot, try to get a quick shot and then foul right away again, but we didn’t have to because he made his two,” Robinson said.
Cal’s Justin Cobbs did miss a jumper and Oregon State got the ball back with 4.3 seconds left. After Robinson called a timeout, OSU in-bounded the ball to junior guard Ahmad Starks who dribbled the length of the court and made a 3-point attempt that was short at the buzzer.
“When you only have that much time, you have to put the ball into only a couple of people’s hands who can shoot off the dribble,” Robinson said. “And that’s Ahmad and Roberto and [Cal’s players] were completely full-fronting Roberto, so we knew they were going to let Ahmad get it, and he was going to have to come up and pull up to shoot a shot.”
After the buzzer, Nelson looked frustrated that he didn’t get to shoot the final shot.
“I am just a player on a team. I definitely wanted the ball for the last shot, but coach knows what he is doing,” Nelson said.
The Beavers may have lost a heartbreaker on Saturday afternoon but the game will be remembered, not as a loss, but as a tribute to Joe Burton’s career in orange and black.
“What you want to do as a person is to grow, especially during your college years and he has grown into a man,” Robinson said. “It is just heartwarming, on and off the court, and I am just happy to be a part of it.”
Alex Crawford, sports reporter
On Twitter @dr_crawf