Oregon State was clinging to a six-point lead in the closing minutes of its fourth game in eight days Sunday afternoon.
Coach Scott Rueck called a timeout as the Beavers were close to getting called for a 10-second count in the backcourt.
All Rueck was hoping for on the ensuing inbounds play was to get the ball over half court and avoid a violation.
Instead, Sasha Goforth was able to break free, Talia von Oelhoffen delivered a perfect pass and Goforth went in for the basket that helped keep Utah and bay.
The Beavers then made enough free throws down the stretch to come away with an 84-74 Pac-12 women's basketball win over the Utes before a smattering of fans at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
“It was definitely a little bit of a turning point, you know because like you said there came a point where it was a two-point game so we just had to keep putting it on them and not letting up and I think that kind of emphasized that,” Goforth said of the inbounds play.
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Goforth lined up on the half court line with Taylor Jones in front of her. She jabbed her defender and went around a screen by Jones and von Oelhoffen hit her in stride.
“I didn't exactly know how they would play us in that scenario to know what would be available, but Talia has a knack for putting the ball in the right place at the right time and Sasha, she's such a jet, so fast,” Rueck said. “She got separation, made a great catch, it was up over the top like a fly pattern basically, caught it and finished. And that was big.”
For Oregon State, Aleah Goodman finished with a team-high 21 points for the second straight game while Goforth added 16 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double on her birthday. Jones scored 15 despite playing just 13 minutes as she battled foul trouble and von Oelhoffen chipped in 12 for her third double-digit performance in as many games.
Utah (4-10, 3-10) got 27 points from Brynna Maxwell after she scored 34 in the win at Oregon State. Kemery Martin added 16 and Dru Gylten 11.
Oregon State (6-5, 4-5) appeared on its way to a blowout win after scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter to go up 19. But the Utes continually clawed away in the fourth quarter.
Utah scored 16 of the first 19 points of the fourth to get within 69-67 with 3:22 to play as the only points the Beavers could muster came on a Goodman 3 with 8:15 left in the game.
But von Oelhoffen buried a 3 and Jones hit a free throws to restores some order and put the Beavers up 73-67 with 2:21 to play. It appeared that Maxwell had cut the deficit back to two with a 3-pointer following von Oelhoffen's 3, but the Utes were whistled for a moving screen.
Then came Goforth’s drive after the timeout that seemed to be the back breaker as the Beavers hit enough free throws down the stretch to pull out the win.
“It means a lot because I think earlier in the year in those situations we kind of let up, but I think that we've grown so much just in a few games,” Goforth said. “So it meant a lot that we could really pull through and get the W.”
The Beavers closed the first half on a 10-0 run as Taya Corosdale and Ellie Mack drained 3-pointers and Goodman scored a layup and hit two free throws after Utah coach Lynne Roberts was whistled for a technical foul.
That stretch between the second and third quarters was a thing of beauty.
“I can’t really describe it, it’s just so energetic and enthusiastic and you're just so happy for your teammates and you feel like you're on top of the world,” Goforth said.
Rueck didn’t realize just how big of a run that was over the span of 5 minutes and 36 seconds of game action.
“I knew it was tied and then it was just like that nine or whatever it was at halftime, I remember that and obviously key stretch,” Rueck said.
The Utes had taken their first lead of the game, 31-28, in the quarter thanks to an 8-0 run on a Maxwell 3-pointer. The game see-sawed the next couple possessions before Corosdale started the closing run with a 3 with 1:42 left in the half.
The Beavers were 18 for 33 from the field in the half and hits 6 of 12 3s. Utah was 13 for 31 from the field overall and 4 for 8 from 3.
Goodman had a game-high 14 points while Martin led the Utes with 11.
Goodman scored 10 of the Beavers’ first 12 points as they bolted to a 12-2 lead. The lead was 14-5 before Utah went on a 9-2 run to get within a basket. But the Beavers countered with a 7-2 run, capped by a 3 from von Oelhoffen with 10 seconds left for a 23-16 lead.
The Beavers have now won three straight and finished a daunting four games in eight days with three wins and a double-overtime loss.
Monday will be a day to rest before getting back to work on Tuesday for Arizona and Arizona State at home this coming weekend. The Wildcats, who did not play this week due to COVID-19 protocols, are scheduled to play at OSU on Friday.
“I mean we talked about we want to go for 4-0 during this stretch, we want to get ourselves back in every conversation, every race, everything we possibly can,” Rueck said. “Unfortunately came up short in the first one against Washington State but it was a double-overtime game. .... But to finish the way we have and to finish it 3-1, clearly gaining momentum, gaining confidence — just what you'd hope this time of the year.
“Our best basketball obviously is still ahead of us. … I'm just super proud of everybody associated with our program for the way they embraced a tough week and finished strong and got better throughout. So exactly what we needed. Excited to get back at it after a long nap.”