COLLEGE PARK, Md. — President Barack Obama might consider a career in coaching or motivational speaking after he’s done with his second term.
Inspired by the words and presence of the President, Oregon State surprised Maryland 90-83 on Sunday night.
Obama and the first family stayed to the end of the thrilling game, and the Beavers rewarded him with their first victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference school since 1999.
Beavers coach Craig Robinson is the older brother of Michelle Obama, who sat with her husband, the couple’s two daughters and Marian Robinson, the first lady’s mother, in the front row behind the Oregon State bench.
Photos: First Family in College Park
Craig Robinson usually brings his team to the Washington area around Thanksgiving, which enables him to visit family and provide the Oregon State a White House tour.
“We always have the support of the President,” Robinson said. “Before this game, during our tour, he was admonishing the guys to make sure they started playing a little bit better because his brother-in-law is coaching the team. It was a cute thing, a fun thing to hear.”
Coming off a home loss to Coppin State and a narrow win over visiting Portland, the Beavers (2-1) flourished in the business end of their trip to the East Coast. Roberto Nelson scored 31 points and Devon Collier had 29 points and 11 rebounds, and Oregon State never trailed after opening the second half with an 8-0 run.
“They played inspired, for him, for themselves and for Oregon State. It means a lot having him here,” said Robinson, now 4-0 with the President in attendance.
“What we’re trying to do is get him to come to some more games,” the coach said.
Dez Wells scored 23 for the Terrapins (1-2), whose 30-game non-conference winning streak at home ended.
“I think it was cool that (Obama) was here and it was great for our University,” Maryland coach Mark Turegon said. “It brought out a bigger crowd. Hopefully, he was able to relax a little bit.”
Wearing a long-sleeved black polo shirt and jeans, Obama received cheers and a few jeers from many in the packed house before the game as he walked behind the scorer’s table toward his front-row seat. He waved in appreciation before settling into his seat between his daughters, Malia and Sasha.
The appearance of the first family added a level of excitement — and security — to an otherwise ordinary matchup between two teams meeting for the first time.
Everyone entering the gates had their bags checked and was required to pass through a metal detector. This included cheerleaders, media members and team officials. Also, three policemen were stationed in front of the student section across the court from the President.
None of the attention appeared to deter Obama from enjoying a first-hand view of a sport he has long followed
“Him coming out to support us is amazing,” Collier said. “We just came out and got the victory for him. Hopefully, we didn’t stress him out too much.”
After the Beavers scored the first eight points of the second half to take a 46-38 lead, the margin reached 12 points before a 3-pointer by Jake Layman sparked a 12-4 run that got Maryland to 61-57.
But Oregon State used a 7-0 spurt to make it 72-63, and the Beavers — especially Nelson and Collier — subsequently had an answer for every Maryland surge.
After drive by Wells made it 84-81, Nelson responded by sinking a soft jumper with 29 seconds left to clinch it.
“This just shows how good we can be,” Collier said.
The first half ended tied at 38 after Wells sank a jumper just inside the midcourt line an instant after the buzzer sounded. The shot was initially called good, and the President stared intently at the video board to catch the replay.
Nelson scored 16 in a seesaw half that featured 12 ties and eight lead changes. The Beavers went 13 for 22 (59 percent) from the field but offset that by committing 11 turnovers and allowing the Terrapins to grab 11 offensive rebounds.
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