After falling behind 11-0 to start the game, Oregon State scratched and clawed its way back into Friday night's crucial Pac-12 showdown with Stanford.
The Beavers, who managed to take a six-point lead early in the third, found themselves down three with 8.1 seconds remaining.
But Kat Tudor’s inbounds pass to Mikayla Pivec was stolen by DiJonai Carrington.
Instead of potentially sending the game to overtime, the Beavers watched as Carrington ran the clock out as the No. 24 Cardinal escaped with a 60-57 win over the No. 16 Beavers before a disappointed Gill Coliseum crowd of 5,791.
It was the second missed opportunity to potentially tie the game in the final 18 seconds for the Beavers. With 18 seconds left, Katie McWilliams found Marie Gulich on an inbounds pass for a layup attempt but it was contested and no good.
Stanford them missed two free throws but an offensive rebound, its 17th of the game, gave the Cardinal two more free throws.
Brittany McPhee hit just one and the Beavers grabbed the rebound down three.
But it was not to be for the Beavers.
Oregon State (16-6, 7-4), which saw its chance of a fourth straight conference title all but vanish with the loss, hosts No. 25 California at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Cardinal (15-8, 9-2) head to first place and No. 6 Oregon at noon Sunday.
McPhee led the Cardinal with 18 points, while Kianna Williams chipped in 14 and Alanna Smith 11.
McWilliams finished with 16 points for the Beavers, while Pivec added 15 and Taylor Kalmer 12. Gulich was held to seven points, the first time she has failed to reach double figures this season.
The biggest key Friday was Stanford’s ability to rebound as the Cardinal turned their 17 offensive boards into 21 second-chance points.
“That was huge,” said McPhee, who had 12 rebounds, including six offensive boards. “We wanted every extra possession we could get especially because they don’t turn the ball over a lot. Every time you get an offensive rebound it’s another shot you get.”
Oregon State coach Scott Rueck lamented his team’s physicality and was disappointed with the rebounding total — Stanford had a 44-35 edge — and was not shy about his feelings following the game.
“We’ve worked too hard to get to this point to be soft in an area where, we’ve been in physical games before, and this game was allowed to be extremely physical with the exception of a couple calls,” he said. “We needed to match that. We’re laying on the ground and they’re getting layups and laying it in. We’ve got to get better.”
Despite falling behind 11-0, the Beavers managed to get back into the game with an 8-0 run, thanks in part to two 3s by McWilliams.
But the Cardinal were able to take a 21-15 lead into the second on Smith’s bucket at the buzzer.
The Beavers continued to claw back in the second quarter, scoring the first five points to get within 21-20.
Kalmer’s 3 with 5:26 left got the game even at 23 as the Beavers had finally erased the early deficit.
But Stanford, which was just 3 for 16 in the quarter, was able to take a 28-27 lead into the half.
The Beavers took their first lead of the game on Pivec’s hoop and a foul to go up 30-28 25 seconds into the third.
Another Pivec drive and a drive by Taya Corosdale made it 34-28 and forced a Stanford timeout.
At that point the Beavers had outscored the Cardinal 34-17 since trailing 11-0.
“We definitely had some good stretches and it showed when we were passing the ball and getting through the paint, kicking out and making shots,” McWilliams said. “Then on defense making those stops and getting rebounds. But we didn’t make those plays all the way through the game and that showed at the end.”
The Cardinal answered with nine straight to regain the lead at 37-34 on Carrington’s 3.
That was only the start for Stanford, which pushed the run to 17-2 after three straight buckets by McPhee. Williams also had six points in the run.
“We just had to remind people what to do, what we wanted to run,” Stanford coach Tata VanDerveer said of what she mentioned in the timeout. “That’s when Ki got going, Brit got going coming off the screens. The way they were playing the screens, they were allowing jump shots and Ki is money off that screen, Brit is money off that screen. We hadn’t been doing that early in the game and I think that kind of got us going.”
The Beavers finished just 6 for 22 from 3 (27.3 percent) after entering the game leading the conference in 3-point shooting at 41.9 percent.
Tudor, who has been red hot the past couple weeks, did not attempt a three and had just two shots. McWilliams was 4 for 9 but the rest of the team was 2 for 13.
“We just didn’t shoot the 3 like we needed to,” Rueck said. “If we shoot the 3 right, if that percentage is right, what’s the score? There wouldn’t have been the runs like (there were). … We just need to shoot it better.”
Still, the Beavers were in position to send the game to overtime in the final 10 seconds.
“If we get a better screen and we complete that pass, we had some magic in store for you guys. Being what happened, we get to save it for another day.