TEMPE, Ariz. — Oregon State knew nothing was going to be easy Sunday afternoon against an Arizona State women's basketball program that has had its number the past three outings.
The No. 3 Beavers also knew that a victory over the Sun Devils, who upset No. 2 Oregon on Friday night, would likely mean being voted No. 1 in The Associated Press poll come Monday morning.
But a slow start on the offensive end and an Arizona State team that seemed to have an answer for everything the Beavers threw at it was too much to overcome.
The Sun Devils made the plays down the stretch as they pulled off a remarkable weekend sweep of two top-3 teams with a 55-47 Pac-12 win over the Beavers.
“You’ve got to score more than 47, that’s the bottom line,” coach Scott Rueck said in his postgame radio interview. “You’re not going to win anywhere with 47 points. And so you’ve got to give them credit. It was one of those days.”
The Beavers’ (15-1, 3-1) undefeated season came to an end as did their bid, at least for now, to be the No. 1 team in the country as they were unable to execute down the stretch.
“We've got to get better. We’ve got a long ways to go,” Rueck said. “We’ve got a lot of room for growth on this team, and we'll do that, we'll keep working. It's early January last I checked.”
Destiny Slocum and Mikayla Pivec both scored 13 points — but were a combined 10 for 31 from the floor — to lead the Beavers. Taylor Jones added 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Pivec pulled down 10 to pass Deven Hunter for fourth place in career rebounds with (895).
Ja’Tavia Tapley had a game-high 14 points for the Sun Devils (13-4, 3-2), while Reili Richardson and Robbi Ryan each had 10.
Oregon State fell behind 13-4 after the first quarter. and faced an uphill battle from the start. The Beavers finally got even with 2:38 to play, but the Sun Devils, as they did throughout, had an answer.
Down 45-38 midway through the fourth, the Beavers used a 7-0 run to get even. Pivec started the run and then Maddie Washington, who turned 22 on Sunday, hit a jumper to make it 45-42.
Slocum then drained just the Beavers’ second 3-pointer of the game from the right baseline to tie the game.
But Ryan scored on the Sun Devils’ next possession and Tapley made it a 49-45 lead with 1:46 left. Pivec missed two free throws with 40 seconds left and the Sun Devils hit theirs to pull out the win as they closed on a 10-2 run.
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The Beavers struggled to find any consistent offensive rhythm throughout and finished 19 for 61 from the field. That included a 2-for-20 performance from beyond the 3-point line.
“You’ve got to give them credit for taking the rim away from us,” Rueck said. “They made it tough to finish at the rim. They made it tough to get the ball inside and then you're dependent upon the perimeter. And if that’s the case, you’ve got to hit shots to win and it just wasn't our day along those lines.”
Down 10 at the half, the Beavers clawed back several times only to see the Sun Devils answer.
OSU finally cut it to a four-point deficit on a Jones bucket with 30 seconds left, but a three-point play by Jayde Van Hyfte with 2.2 seconds left helped the Sun Devils to a 39-32 lead going to the fourth.
OSU was 7 for 12 in the third but just 1 for 5 from 3. Slocum had eight of the Beavers’ 18 points in the period.
The first half was one to forget for the Beavers.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead on baskets by Jones, the Beavers didn’t score over the last 8:10 of the period and trailed 13-4. Jamie Ruden had seven straight for the Sun Devils to go up 11-4.
To make matters worse for the Beavers, Slocum picked up her second foul with 1:36 left in the first quarter and didn’t return until 3:05 left in the half.
OSU finished the period 2 for 14 from the field and 0 for 5 from 3 and missed several layup opportunities.
The Beavers finally ended the scoring drought and a 0-for-16 shooting slump with a Pivec hoop to cut the deficit to 14-6 with 6:49 left in the second — 11:21 since their last point.
Two Aleah Goodman free throws and a Washington fast break layup got the Beavers within 20-14, but the Sun Devils quickly answered with four straight to close out the half with a 10-point lead.
The Beavers were a just 6 for 32 from the floor, a dismal 18.8 percent, and missed all 10 3-pointers.
ASU, meanwhile, was 11 for 29 from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The Beavers, who are sure to fall out of the top five in The Associated Press poll on Monday, will return to Corvallis to take on California on Friday night before a showdown against Stanford on Sunday. Then comes back-to-back Civil War games against Oregon.
“I mean it doesn't get easier,” Rueck said. “And so we’ve got a long season ahead. I'm really proud of where we are to this point, we've been grinding hard since August, honestly, and so sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat to your opponent and move on.”