The Oregon State Beavers erased a double-digit lead by the Utah Utes in the second half of their opening round PAC-12 tournament game. The Beavers took the lead for their own with less than two seconds with a three-point shot and held on for the win.
The final score of their first round in the tournament was 71-69 on March 11 in Las Vegas, Nev.
The rally came thanks in large part to Oregon State’s freshman guard Jared Lucas, whose hot three-point shooting in the second half helped the Beavers climb out of a hole that seemed too deep from Utah’s own strong shooting night. The freshman in Lucas hit the game-winning three with 1.8 seconds remaining on the game clock.
“My teammates did a great job setting me up, especially on the last two shots, most especially the last one,” Lucas said. “Tres hit me [with an assist] and trusted me.”
The game-clinching three point shot from Lucas came with an opportunity for redemption for the freshman guard. After missing a potential game-winner against Arizona State earlier in the season, Lucas managed to sink the open shot with the Beavers’ tournament run, and possibly season, on the line.
Despite Oregon State heading into their final possession of the game down by a point, early signs through the second half gave the impression that the Utes were bound to win in a runaway. The Beavers held a lead as high as seven points early in the first half, but Utah quickly erased that deficit to carry an eight point lead of their own into halftime.
With a first half surge, Utah’s lead into the halftime break was headed by the Utes’ junior guard Alfonso Plummer, who took control of the game early and set himself up for a record-breaking showing from beyond the arc with seven made threes in the first half on 10 attempts.
Plummer’s first-half brilliance set the tone for the rest of the game. With his ninth made three-pointer, he broke the PAC-12 record for most threes in a tournament game. With his eleventh and final, he became the sole record holder for most threes in any PAC-12 game.
“Alfonso Plummer had a great game,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “We won by the three and ended up losing by that last [Jared Lucas] three.”
But while Oregon State struggled to slow down Plummer, the Beavers kept pace on offense with their own strong shooting at 53% from the field. With the eight point deficit Oregon State faced growing to 14 in the second half, the Beavers used their strong scoring performance to pull off a comeback while the rest of Utah’s offense struggled to match Plummer’s production, leading to the improbable Oregon State win.
“Our seniors in the last couple of timeouts said: We're winning this game. Keep believing it, we're winning this game,” said Beavers head coach Wayne Tinkle. “And what a finish, just incredible.”
With the Oregon State win, they will move on to round two, the quarterfinals, of the PAC-12 tournament to face their rival and the number one-seeded Oregon Ducks. In the regular season, the Beavers split their two-game series with the Ducks, with the upcoming rematch providing a chance for both teams to claim the Civil War series advantage.
Oregon State’s match against the Ducks is scheduled for tip-off March 12 at 12:00p.m.