LAS VEGAS — Don’t blame Shane Gatling for occasionally taking a moment to savor his situation.
A year ago, Gatling was playing at the junior college level after failing to fit in as a freshman in one season at Niagara. Now Gatling is helping the Colorado Buffaloes make a run at the Pac-12 Conference tournament.
Gatling shook off a subpar Pac-12 tournament debut against Cal to play a key role in Thursday’s 73-58 quarterfinal round win against Oregon State. Gatling helped shoot the Buffs into the lead by scoring 11 of his 15 points in the first half, then went 4-for-4 at the free throw line after halftime as part of another stellar effort by the Buffs at the line as they held off a Beavers rally.
“I was just thinking about that last night,” Gatling said. “It really means a lot, because I took a lot of different routes to get here. It was a dream to play at the high-major level. I’m blessed to play in the Pac-12 and it’s a dream to play in the NCAA Tournament. That’s what I really want to do with this team.”
Gatling went 3-for-4 on 3-pointers in the win against Oregon State and 4-for-6 overall, doing all his damage from the floor during the first half. Gatling also collected six rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 33 minutes.
“My teammates kept believing in me and telling me to shoot the ball, because that’s what I’m here to do. That’s what I do for this team,” Gatling said. “Collectively, as a team, it was just Colorado basketball. That’s how we play. Our defense leads to offense, and if one person doesn’t step up someone else will. Five of us were in double figures, so all of us had a good day today.”
The Buffs have advanced to the Pac-12 semifinals for the first time in five years despite a pair of subpar games from sophomore forward Tyler Bey.
Bey’s week began with the Las Vegas native collecting a slew of honors, including the Pac-12’s Player of the Week and Most Improved Player award, in addition to his selection to the All-Pac-12 first team. Cal’s incessant double-teaming flustered Bey into seven turnovers in the opening round Wednesday, though he did finish with 11 rebounds.
Against Oregon State Bey battled foul trouble, sitting the final 14 minutes, 18 seconds of the first half after picking up his second foul. He went 2-for-8 with a 4-for-4 mark at the free throw line, finishing with eight points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots in 18 minutes.
Bey has shot just 3-for-14 in the two games at T-Mobile Arena, and his effort Thursday ended a streak of eight consecutive double-digit rebounding games.
On Thursday night, Washington State announced that it is parting ways with head coach Ernie Kent. The Cougars went 11-20 overall this season and finished 11th in the Pac-12 with a 4-14 league mark. In five seasons at WSU, Kent went 58-98, and after going 7-11 in the Pac-12 in his first season in 2014-15, the Cougars compiled league marks of 1-17, 6-12, and two at 4-14.
Also on Thursday, hours before his team’s quarterfinal game against Utah, Oregon extended the contract of head coach Dana Altman for another three seasons through 2025-26.
Junior forward Lucas Siewert grabbed six rebounds against Oregon State but has struggled with his shot in Las Vegas, going 0-for-5 against OSU and 1-for-11 in the two tournament games. Siewert’s scoreless outing against the Beavers was his first since a stretch of three consecutive scoreless games midway through last season…CU has held its two tourney opponents to a .340 mark (34-for-100) from the floor…CU held OSU to season-low marks in points and field goal percentage (.340)…CU’s 21 wins is tied for the sixth-best total in program history. The list: 24 in 2010-11 and 2011-12; 23 in 2013-14; 22 in 1996-97 and 2015-16; and 21 in 1968-69, 2012-13, and this year.