SALT LAKE CITY — Amid a parade of players transferring from Utah at the end of each of the past three seasons, Jason Washburn made the decision to stay.
Washburn believed he owed it to the fans and his team to finish what he started. The senior forward was convinced something good would eventually come from his loyalty. His resilience paid off. Washburn became the 35th player in Utes history to score at least 1,000 points during his basketball career in a 72-61 victory over Oregon State on Thursday night.
He reached the milestone on his first basket of the game and finished with 15 points and eight boards for the Utes.
“It was really early in the game so I tried to stay focused,” said Washburn, who now has 1,013 career points. “But I'm in the company with some of the greatest names in Utah history and it's a really humbling thing to be honest. What makes it even sweeter is it came on a good night for the Utah basketball program.”
Jordan Loveridge scored 17 points and collected 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season to lead Utah. Jarred DuBois chipped in 15 points and six assists for the Utes (12-17, 4-13 Pac-12) as they moved a step closer to wrapping up the 10th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament next week.
Roberto Nelson scored 18 points and Eric Moreland grabbed 11 rebounds for Oregon State (13-17, 3-14), which lost its fifth straight game.
Utah forced the Beavers to commit 15 turnovers and scored 21 points off those miscues.
“I didn't like our energy level the whole night,” Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. “We couldn't get our energy level up. I take most of the blame for that. I've got to have these guys prepared to hit the ground running, especially when we come up here.”
Forcing so many turnovers not only helped the Utes disrupt the Beavers' offense, it also helped open up their own offense.
“It just helped with keeping us ahead,” Loveridge said. “It's easier to play ahead. You have more confidence in your shot.”
Utah broke open a close game in the second half by hitting four of their first five shots. DuBois and Taylor powered the spurt with back-to-back 3-pointers that boosted Utah to a 40-29 lead with 17:43 remaining.
Oregon State closed the gap a bit when Challe Barton hit a 3-pointer and Nelson converted a 3-point play to make 42-35. The comeback ground to a halt amid a barrage of Utah 3-pointers over the next three minutes. Brandon Taylor, Justin Seymour and Glen Dean all took a turn hitting 3-pointers. When they were done, the Utes had a 51-35 lead with 13:41 left in the game.
“We came out with the proper energy we needed and the momentum,” Taylor said. “We just went out there and played hard. It freed our minds up and we just got it going.”
Utah pushed its lead to as high as 19 when Loveridge finished off a Washburn steal with a jumper to make it 61-42 with 5:46 left.
The Utes shot a blistering 50 percent from 3-point range in the second half, going 6 for 12 from beyond the arc. They also finished with a 39-29 edge in rebounds over Oregon State.
“Our rebounding focus and our defensive focus led to making the offense easier,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “That's what we've preached here for a little while now. If you play the game right way and all you're thinking about is your effort and your rebounding, sure enough the offense starts clicking.”
Utah got off to a promising start on offense. Jordan Loveridge drained a pair of 3-pointers and Jarred DuBois added a layup to help the Utes open up an early 10-3 lead.
Barton and Olaf Schaftenaar each knocked down a 3-pointer to trim into Utah's lead to 12-9. Then both offenses went ice cold. Utah endured a stretch where it missed 8 of 9 shots. At the same time, Oregon State missed 12 of 13 shots.
Washburn helped Utah end its drought in impressive fashion. He scored off a backdoor jam and then a jumper on consecutive possessions to give the Utes an 18-11 lead with 7:04 remaining before halftime.
“We just didn't come out to play,” Nelson said. “When you come out flat in another person's gym, you can't expect to win, can't expect it even to be close. They just grinded us out.”
Utah managed to stay a step ahead of Oregon State throughout the remainder of the half.
The Beavers briefly rallied when Roberto Nelson and Devon Collier made back-to-back baskets to trim the Utes lead to 20-17. But Jeremy Olsen made a driving layup and Brandon Taylor followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession to make it 25-17 with 3:15 left in the half.
Utah limited Oregon State to 37 percent shooting from the field before halftime. The Utes held a 21-16 edge on the boards over the Beavers.