CORVALLIS – All week at practice, the smile was finally back.

The customary wide-eyed grin streaking across Oregon State forward Jarmal Reid‘s face returned to the Gill Coliseum hardwood as he completed the comeback from a stress fracture in his right foot that derailed the start of his senior season. Yet as he soaked in the joy of his time on the court, Reid still spoke with trepidation about his ultimate return to game action earlier in the week.

That question was answered Saturday afternoon against Nevada, never more emphatically than in the first half when Reid bulldozed his 6-foot-7, 235-pound frame toward the left block and banked in a hanging runner for his first field goal of the season. He shortly followed the bucket with a quick flex of his right bicep while hustling down the court, an all-business look on his face.

Reid played 22 minutes in the 66-62 win, adding seven points (2-for-9), five rebounds, four assists and two steals. The minutes total was hire than expected, head coach Wayne Tinkle said, but ultimately significant against the Wolf Pack’s physicality.

“We didn’t expect him to play 22 but we really said it was going to depend on how our initial five played,” he said. “We challenged (the starting five) to start physically and we didn’t. So we knew he was a good guy to go to.”

Reid’s presence put Oregon State (6-1) one step closer to a complete rotation, a boost of depth that will increase in the coming weeks when senior forward Daniel Gomis returns from a broken left hand.

In a game that Gomis’ defensive presence would have been greatly valued, the Beavers still held Nevada (5-3) to 32.3 percent shooting from the field but needed to fight to the end amid 15 different lead changes.

Oregon State led by as many as eight late in the first half but saw that lead vanish on a pair of Nevada guard D.J. Fenner free throws that gave the Wolf Pack a 53-52 lead with 6:17 to play. The sequence was potentially disastrous, as it sent senior guard Gary Payton II back to the bench with his fourth foul.

In his stead came freshman Stephen Thompson Jr., who sparked a 10-3 run in which he scored six points. After Nevada cut the Oregon State lead to three points, Thompson drilled his lone three-pointer of the day when he rolled off an Olaf Schaftenaar screen and connected from the right wing to put Oregon State up 65-59 with 1:46 remaining.

It was the second game in a row in which Thompson, who finished with 11 points (4-for-7), went scoreless in the first half but concluded the full 40 minutes in double figures.

“He’s kind of like a relief pitcher: short memory,” Wayne Tinkle said.

The victory will be overshadowed in the school history book as the day that Gary Payton II set the Oregon State record with 38 consecutive games with a steal, passing the record set by his father from 1989-1990. Payton, who entered Saturday third in the country at 3.5 steals per game, snagged the record midway through the first half but later downplayed the accomplishment.

“It’s just me playing basketball,” he said. “I do what I do on defense and it just so happened I passed his (record). So it’s a cool accomplishment to have for him. It’s just that.”

Payton finished with a team-high 16 points (7-for-11), eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks despite playing only 14 second half minutes while in foul trouble.

Last year’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year returned for the game’s final three-minute stretch and provided important physical defense on a second-chance Nevada missed layup with 28 seconds remaining.

“I really didn’t think they were going to call a cheap foul at the end there,” he said.

Fouls were called in flurries early in the second half, some of which sent the Gill Coliseum crowd into an extended booing frenzy.

Tinkle challenged his team’s defensive aggressiveness three days earlier after OSU opponent Loyola Marymount took only two foul shots. On Saturday, the Beavers picked up six fouls in the first 3:28 of the second half to put Nevada in the bonus.

However, the quick foul trouble helped force Tinkle’s hand in switching to a 1-3-1 zone, a defensive set the coach said the team recently installed.

“We knew it this was going to be a good team to do it against,” he said. “I thought that turned the game around.”

The Beavers outlasted a stellar performance from Fenner, who scored nine consecutive Nevada points in the second half, a single-handed 9-4 run that gave the Wolf Pack a 40-38 lead. He finished with a game-high 24 points.

Freshman Cameron Oliver, a former Oregon State signee who did not end up enrolling at the school, finished with six points (2-for-9), 12 rebounds and five blocks.

He was also the defender on Reid’s first basket, a one-on-one showdown in which Oliver could not send the ball away.

“Physically I felt great,” said Reid, once again flashing a smile. “Of course I knew I wasn’t going to be in the best of game shape, but I think I did a pretty solid job.”

NOTES: Junior center Cheikh N’diaye got his most extended time in his third game of the year, primarily in the first half after Drew Eubanks went to the bench with two fouls. N’diaye played nine minutes and finished with two points (1-for-1), one rebound and three blocks. Oregon State earned a plus-11 scoring advantage with him on the floor.

After the game, Wayne Tinkle said he had N’diaye change the team’s win total on the locker room white board, an honor given to the Beavers’ player of the game.

“We told the guys, it was a credit to him,” Tinkle said. “He’s kept a good attitude, we went to him and he produced.”

Announced attendance for the game was 4,891.

— Danny Moran

[email protected]

@DannyJMoran

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