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Marie Gulich was not about to be denied.

With the game tied in the final minute, Oregon State’s senior center turned one way, then the other and finally found a path to the basket.

She muscled the shot up and in to give the No. 22 Beavers a 56-54 lead over No. 18 Arizona State with just under 40 seconds left on Friday night.

After grabbing a key defensive rebound, Gulich hit one of two free throws.

Then Mikayla Pivec blocked a 3-point attempt by Courtney Ekmark and the Beavers earned a hard-fought and much-needed 57-54 Pac-12 win over the Sun Devils before a Gill Coliseum crowd of 3,954.

Gulich finished with a game-high 20 points as the Beavers stopped a two-game slide and ended the Sun Devils’ six-game winning streak.

“It was a huge bucket for us,” Pivec said of Gulich’s eventual game-winner. “I don’t know, I felt like she got bumped a few times but she just kept being strong and faked up again, faked up again and finished with the left hand.

“We needed those points.”

The Beavers (12-4, 3-2) host Arizona at 1 p.m. Sunday while the Sun Devils (11-4, 4-1) head to Eugene to take on Oregon at 5 p.m. Sunday.

After Gulich hit one of two free throws with 16.9 seconds left, it was Pivec that sealed the win with her block of Ekmark’s long 3-point attempt.

The Beavers had a foul to give, and coach Scott Rueck gave the team the option whether to use it.

“I just didn’t want to foul her and then have her shoot it and get three shots so I took the cautious route,” Pivec explained.

“She’s savvy,” Rueck said.

Oregon State finished with 46 points in the paint, mostly off attacking the basket for layups.

“They were pressuring up top so we decided to attack the basket,” said Pivec, who added 12 points. “I know early on we were missing, including myself, we were missing easy layups that we should have made.

“But in the second half I thought we finished better. They were giving up layups so that’s what we took.”

Arizona State led by as many as nine in the second quarter when the Beavers were missing some of those point-blank shots.

Robbi Ryan, who finished with 19 points, was nearly unstoppable with her midrange shot in the second period, helping the Sun Devils keep the lead. She scored the final eight points of the half for ASU.

The Beavers did manage to stay close and finished the half on a 7-2 run, capped by Katie McWilliams’ corner 3 at the buzzer off a pass from Taylor Kalmer, who had eight points off the bench.

It was the Beavers’ first made 3 of the half on just their fourth attempt.

Still, OSU trailed 31-29.

The Beavers switched to a zone defense in the third quarter and used that to help make the Sun Devils a bit more uncomfortable.

The Beavers tied the game twice in the third but could never get the lead. ASU kept the lead thanks in part to three 3-pointers.

“I thought giving them a different look was just pivotal and I thought we executed well,” Rueck said. “We gave up three 3s that I don’t think we should have in the third quarter.”

Maddie Washington coaxed her buzzer-beater at the end of the third to fall through to get the Beavers within 46-45 going to the final 10 minutes.

McWilliams’ short jumper early in the fourth gave the Beavers their first lead (47-46) since being up 10-8 late in the first quarter.

ASU led by as many as three but the Beavers kept battling back before eventually pulling out the win.

“Coming out of this with a win, I’m super proud of the team the way we played,” Gulich said. “We stuck together, we talked about being more together on the court as a team and I’m just super proud of that.”

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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