Stevie Thompson Jr. sank 3 free throws with 1 tenth of a second left, and Oregon State pulled out the 71-69 win over Utah in a wild finish no one at Gill Coliseum Thursday night will soon forget.
The Beavers had erased a 10 point Ute lead to go ahead 2 different times in the last minute and a half, only to have Utah respond, and apparently win the game themselves, with 3 of their own free throws.
Thompson hit back to back baskets, one a 3, and Gary Payton II added the basket to boost his total to a co-game high 20 points, and put the Beavers ahead 66-63, only to have Brandon Taylor bury his only basket of the game, a 3 pointer to tie the game back up with 42 seconds left.
Undaunted, GP II found Jarmal Reid, who was playing his first game after serving a 4 game suspension after an incident, ironically in the first meeting of the season between Oregon State and Utah, in which Reid tripped an official, under the basket for the layin that put the Beavers back up 68-66 with 13 seconds left.
But the excitement was just beginning.
Reid was then whistled for fouling Utah's Jordan Loveridge while Loveridge was shooting a 3 point shot from right in front of the Ute's bench with 2.2 seconds left. Replay left it questionable at best if there had been any contact, but there was no camera look up the sideline, and those who had that look saw there was no contact.
And so it looked like the Utes had stolen one when Loveridge sank all 3 free throws.
But as Thompson attempted a desperation half court shot, Taylor crashed into him with 1 tenth of a second left.
Review confirmed the foul was called before time ran out, and Utah's luck ran out as Thompson, above, sank all 3 free throws, this while GPII couldn't watch until after the first two went down to seal the win, and start the celebration.
"I saw he (Taylor) had jumped in the air before I shot and I tried to draw contact," Thompson said. "There definitely was contact."
The game had been exciting enough all along, with the entire first half seeing no more than a 2 basket differential at any point save for one brief 7 point Oregon State lead.
The Beavers opened a 15-8 lead on the strength a pair of Olaf Schaftenaar 3s, and despite a fast start by the Ute's Kyle Kuzma, below, who had Utah's first 3 baskets of the game.
GP II would get into early foul trouble though, picking up his 2nd foul at the under 12 minute media time out, and Kuzma, who hit 6 of his first 7 shots of the game, led a Utah comeback that saw the Utes use a 10-2 run to take a 27-24 lead.
Payton returned and Reid made his first appearance post suspension after a Utah timeout with 7:19 to go in the first half, but after a 7-0 OSU run to retake the lead, GP II picked up his 3rd foul, and exited again at the under 4 minute media timeout.
Baskets by Reid and Langston Morris-Walker offset a pair by Jacob Poeltl though, and Oregon State took a 35-31 lead to the locker room.
Poeltl would continue his scoring run to start the second half though, with 5 more points, giving him 9 in a row for Utah, and the Utes, despite 3 baskets by GP II, above,went on a 14-6 run to retake a 45-41 lead by the 14:40 mark.
One of the stories of the game was the lack of scoring to that point by both Tres Tinkle and Thompson, Oregon State's #2 and #3 scorers. Tinkle finally erased his zero with a 3 pointer, but Utah responded with a 10-2 run, sparked by a pair of 3s by Loveridge, who had also been held scoreless until that point, and take a 55-46 lead by midway in the second half, and despite Poeltl picking up his 3rd foul less than 8 minutes after halftime.
The Utes opened the largest lead of the game, going up 60-50 on Poeltl's free throw to complete a 2+1 after an offensive rebound with 7:44 left, but 20 seconds later Poeltl picked up his 4th foul,
Reid, above, and Thompson then combined for a 7-0 Oregon State run to get the Beavers back in it. Reid's basket was followed by a pair of Thompson free throws, and then Reid found himself in another incident involving contact with an official.
This one was much more positive than the trip-up in Salt Lake City, as Reid deflected a Utah pass off of an official, which prevented the ball from going out of bounds, scooped the loose ball up, and found a streaking Thompson for a layin plus a free throw to cut the deficit to 3 points.
But Utah still held a 4 point lead when Poeltl returned with 5 minutes to go.
The Beavers suffered 4 consecutive misses, but the Utes went 6 possessions without scoring, and they only got off 1 shot in that stretch, and it was blocked.
By that point, Thompson and Payton had run off their 7-0 run for a 66-63 lead, and set the stage for the frenzied finish.
"I have tremendous pride in our guys," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. "With our back to the wall we responded against a well-coached and talented team that had won five games in a row. We said tonight we are going to close. We executed offensively and defensively in the last seven minutes better than we did in the entire game."
Poeltl finished with a co-game high 20 points, matching Payton, but the Ute's best player was a non-factor in the final minute mayhem due to foul trouble.
Kuzma was the only other player to finish in double digits for Utah, with 17 points. Loveridge just missed, finishing with 9.
Thompson wound up with 13, all in the last 7:20 of the game. Schaftenaar finished with 8 points, all early in the first half, and was a non-factor in the second half. Reid also had 8.
The Utes lost despite shooting 51% for the game, and holding the Beavers to 47.5%, and also making 15 of 18 free throws, more than Oregon State even attempted.
The cause was partially turnovers and more total shots that the Beavers got up, but the 6 dry possessions, one of which ended in a shot clock violation, Poeltl's foul trouble, and Taylor's inexplicable foul at the end were really the difference in the game.
Oregon State's win not only snapped the Beavers' 2 game losing streak from their trip last weekend to the desert, it came after the Beavers had dropped 5 of their last 6, and also snapped Utah's 5 game winning streak that had started with the Ute's win in the game Reid got ejected from.
Oregon State improved to 13-8 for the year, and 4-6 in the Pac-12, and the Beaves climbed into a 9th place tie with UCLA, who lost 80-61 at USC tonight.
Utah fell to 17-6, and 6-4 in the Pac-12, in a tie with Arizona and Colorado for 4th place.
The Beavers host the Buffs, who fell 76-56 to conference leading Oregon tonight in Eugene, Saturday evening.
Cue the fight song!