Beavers Buck Cardinal Comeback, Win 69-67
by Michelle Smith
LOS ANGELES - Oregon State won its first conference tournament game since 2006, holding off Stanford for a 69-67 win in the opening game of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament Wednesday night at Staples Center.
"I can't tell you how excited we are to get our first Pac-10 Tournament win in this era," said OSU coach Craig Robinson. "It's been a while and it sure feels good. That was a toughness win, a gutsy win, people making plays when you had to."
The Beavers (11-19) move on to face top-seed Arizona on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
Stanford very nearly climbed out the hole it dug in the first half, but couldn't get quite all the way there. Junior guard Jeremy Green, who hit seven 3-pointers in the game and led all scorers with 25 points, had the ball in his hand on the final possession, but could not get a shot off after OSU's Jared Cunningham got his hand on the ball.
"I could have made a better play, that was on me," Green said. "Coach put the ball in my hands. I don't blame anybody but myself."
The Cardinal shot a dismal 11.8 percent in the first half (4 of 34 from the floor), but a solid defensive effort kept them within 26-18 at halftime.
"I take my hat off to those guys because they made some adjustments, but in the first half, I thought our guys did a good job matching up with their shooters," Robinson said. "We didn't do as good a job in the second half, but we did enough to win the game."
Stanford, which closed its season with a 15-16 record, rebounded to shoot 59.3 percent in the second half, including seven 3-pointers.
"Our guys gave an amazing effort in the second half," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "It's difficult to win any game when he start the first half 4 of 34. Our guys were really competing, putting us in a position to win."
Stanford tied the game at 34-34, watched the Beavers push back out to a 45-37 lead with 11:49 to go and then put on a furious rally to make it exciting down the stretch. Stanford was down 57-50 with 3:40 left in the game and got as close as 66-65 on a 3-pointer by Green with 13 seconds to go.
Cunningham, the Beavers' leading scorer, set the pace for OSU with 24 points, including a 15-for-20 effort from the free-throw line as the Cardinal fouled in the final minutes to stop the clock and keep their hopes alive.
"It's awesome, we played a 40-minute game," Cunningham said. "Playing together was the main thing."
Freshman Devon Collier finished with 19 points and Ahmad Starks added 15 for the Beavers, who had lost seven of eight to close the Pac-10 season.
Stanford freshmen Dwight Powell and Anthony Brown added 11 points each for the Cardinal.