Everything went wrong down the stretch for Oregon State, and as a result, 3rd ranked Notre Dame escaped with the 62-61 win Monday night in South Bend.
After overcoming a double digit second half deficit, the 10th ranked Beavers took a 59-56 lead with 4:11 left on Ruth Hamblin's putback. But bad shooting, bad officiating, and a bad decision all conspired to thwart Oregon State's attempt at what would have been the biggest win in the history of the program.
The Beavers missed 5 shots the rest of the way, and then the officials got involved. The Irish had worked their way back into a 60-59 lead, but the Beavers, coming out of a timeout with 11.7 seconds left, looked to Jamie Weisner for a jumper from the right side for the lead.
Maria Mabrey got a piece of the ball, but then the whistle blew, with the ball still live, and Notre Dame was awarded the ball. Oregon State was called for a turnover, but the shot clock expiration came with 6.6 seconds left, less than 30 seconds after Gabby Hanson's steal had started the possession.
Forced to foul, Katie McWilliams put Lindsay Allen on the line, and Allen sank both free throws, opening a 3 point lead.
On the other end, McWilliams was fouled by Allen, and though she was airborne and trying to launch a shot by the time any contact occurred, the officials ruled the foul came on the floor, despite the fact that neither player was on the floor.
With .3 seconds left, McWilliams hit the first free throw, and then, inexplicably, in a must miss situation, sank the second free throw, ensuring the 1 point loss. With only .3 seconds left, only a tip or deflection basket can be possible by rule, so the free throw had to be missed to have any chance.
The drama came at the end of a game of runs that saw both teams have dominant stretches.
Notre Dame started the game shooting terribly, and as a result, Oregon State jumped out to an early 8-3 lead, and held a 13-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Beavers, playing without point guard Sydney Wiese, out for several weeks with a broken bone in her right hand suffered in the Tennessee game, appeared to have learned an important lesson from the loss to the Lady Vols, where they too often and too easily abandoned the inside game, and had a 10-0 edge in points in the paint in the first period.
The game was tied at 18 apiece midway in the second quarter, Notre Dame took what was their largest lead to that point on a 3 by Madison Cable.
Oregon State answered with a 6-0 run to go up 24-21 on Marie Gulich's jumper off a Hamblin rebound and assist with 2:44 to go to halftime.
But Notre Dame ran off 9 unanswered points as they ran to the locker room, taking a 30-26 lead.
The mid-game run continued coming back out, as the Irish ran off 7 more in a row, making it a 16-0 run, and after Weisner intervened with a 3, pumped in 5 more. The 21-3 run in 6 minutes of game time, and the 18 point turnaround that resulted, produced a 42-29 Notre Dame lead, the largest of the game by either team, and made it look like a blowout might be coming.
But Oregon State answered with another big run of their own, going on a 13-2 tear, capped by back to back 3 pointers by Hanson to pull back within 2 points.
A pair of misses allowed the Irish to rebuild their lead to 48-42 by the end of the 3rd quarter, and after a McWilliams 3 to start the 4th period, made another 5-0 run.
Devin Hunter and Hanson answered with back to back 3s, and Weisner's free throws tied the game at 53 apiece with 6 1/2 minutes left, setting the stage for a wild finish.
Arike Ogunbowale answered with a 3 for the Irish, but the Beavers made a 6-0 run, capped by Hamblin's putback with over 4 minutes to go.
It was the second game against a ranked opponent in which Oregon State's shooting went ice cold with the game on the line, and the Beavers missed multiple shots, any one of which would have ultimately won or tied the game.
Instead, Oregon State will enter Pac-12 play with a 9-2 record after concluding non-conference competition. Notre Dame improved to 11-1 on the year.
With Weise out, Hanson poured in a game high 18 points, including 3 of 6 from 3 point range, and Weisner added 15, making 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Overall, Oregon State shot 44% from 3 point range, far better than they shot overall. Indeed, its a bit of a surprise that the Beavers were in the game at the end, after shooting under 37%, with the late game misses the main problem. Especially since on the road, and with ACC officiating, Notre Dame made as many free throws as Oregon State even took. This despite the Beavers having a decided size advantage.
Hamblin had a double double, with 10 points and a game high 12 rebounds.
Cable led the Irish, with 15 points, and Freshman Marina Mabrey added 13 off the Notre Dame bench.
Oregon State had an edge of 13 rebounds, but had 16 turnovers, 9 on Notre Dame steals, while snagging only 3 steals of their own, as the Irish used a speed advantage to out-hustle the Beavers on a number of occasions.
The Irish entered the game as the leading team in the country at shooting 3s, and made 6 of 9 tonight, but the Beavers held their own, making 8 of 18 without Wiese.
Oregon State will return to action with a trip to LA, to take on USC Saturday, and UCLA Monday night.