With just under four minutes left Friday night, the Oregon State women’s basketball team appeared to be in position to advance to the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
But in what seemed like the blink of an eye, it all came crashing down.
Arizona State closed on a 13-1 run and the Sun Devils sent the Beavers home early with a 57-51 win at KeyArena in Seattle.
Oregon State had played in the last two tournament title games, and three of the last four.
Not this season.
Now, the Beavers must regroup and wait the better part of two weeks for the chance to get the bitter taste of defeat out of their system.
Oregon State will find out what’s next on March 12 when the NCAA tournament brackets are announced. the tournament begins March 16 or 17, depending on the regional.
Coach Scott Rueck said he told his team he was proud of them following Friday’s loss and that they need to put it out of their minds and begin to focus on the next segment of the season.
“It's over, let it go, but we need to learn from it,” Rueck said. “And this team has done a great job. … The character on this team has turned every bit of adversity forever, for the last eight years, every bit of adversity into positives, and we need to do the same.
“So it's time to look in the mirror, (see) how can we each get better for it and get ready for the fourth segment, which is the NCAA tournament. It's always an honor to play in that event. This team has earned the right to do it, and we're going to make the most of it.”
The Beavers are expected to make their fifth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and will take a 23-7 record into the event.
OSU did see its seven-game overall winning streak as well as a seven-game streak over the Sun Devils snapped with the loss Friday.
Still, the Beavers have won 12 of their last 15 games, including top-10 wins over UCLA and Oregon, with losses to Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State — all expected to be tournament teams.
OSU’s other losses were to UCLA, USC, Duke and Notre Dame — again teams expected to be in the tournament.
While it’s almost assured the Beavers will be in the tournament, there is still an outside chance the they could receive a top-four seed and the opportunity to host the first and second rounds for a fourth straight season.
Even with the loss, Rueck said he believes the Beavers have proven to be worthy of consideration.
“We've beaten two top-10 teams and we play in the Pac-12,” he said. “So I think we should strongly be considered for it.”
The Beavers are 13-2 at home this season and 5-1 in the NCAA tournament. They haven't lost more than two games at home in the last four seasons.
Playing at home would also give OSU's lone senior, Marie Gulich, another opportunity to play in front of the home fans.
Junior Katie McWilliams said Gulich gave some encouraging words following Friday’s loss.
“She just said keep your heads up,” McWilliams said. “She talked about how we're not done, we're not done yet. We just need to regroup and keep each other under our belts. We'll be fine. She said she loves us, so we'll be ready for the NCAA tournament."