CORVALLIS, Ore. (ABC4 Sports) – Alissa Pili scored 23 points and No. 7 Utah withstood a furious rally in a 75-73 overtime victory over Oregon State on Friday night.
Trailing by three points with 0.4 seconds remaining in overtime, Oregon State’s Timea Gardiner was fouled on a 3-point attempt. Gardiner missed the first free throw, made the second, and intentionally missed the third, but the Beavers were unable to get the rebound as time expired.
Gianna Kneepkens scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half for the Utes (19-2, 9-2 Pac-12), who have matched the best 21-game start in school history. Talia von Oelhoffen scored a team-high 17 points for Oregon State (11-11, 3-8), which has lost five of its last six games.
“We kind of lost focus in the second half,” Kneepkens said. “But a big part of winning games is finding ways at the end of games to make plays. We kind of just need to focus on that.”
Gardiner’s inside basket with 10.1 seconds left tied the game and brought Oregon State all the way back from an 18-point, second-quarter deficit. The Beavers finished regulation on a 12-2 run to force overtime.
Oregon State took its first lead of the game on Bendu Yeaney’s layup to open the scoring in the extra period.
After Yeaney’s basket put Oregon State up 70-69, Kneepkens converted a reverse layup, and two free throws on the Utes’ next possession to put Utah on top 73-70.
Beers scored inside to cut the lead to one, but Pili converted two free throws with 19.4 seconds remaining to give Utah a 75-72 advantage.
It was another close loss to a ranked team for the Beavers, who fell 63-60 at then-No. 3 Stanford last week.
“We’ve been very inconsistent,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “When this team has been focused and maintained that focus for that level of time, we can in my opinion, we can beat anyone.”
The same could be said about the Utes, whose only losses this season came on the road against Colorado and Stanford. Utah is 3-1 against ranked opponents and trails Stanford by one game in conference standings.
Neither team shot particularly well. Oregon State made 38.6% of its shots compared to 35.9% for Utah, but the Utes made 10 3-pointers to seven for the Beavers.
Jenna Johnson joined Pili and Kneepkens in double figures for Utah with 11 points. Yeaney had 13 points, four assists and three steals for the Beavers. Beers had 11 points with nine rebounds, and Jelena Mitrovic had eight points, nine rebounds and five blocks.
The Utes reached the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament in 2006 and this team could have what it takes to get that far, or beyond. Utah is currently projected as a No. 2 seed in the tournament. Pili has been a difference maker. The 6-2 junior forward has scored at least 20 points in the last six games, and came into the Oregon State game averaging 20.3 points. She is in her first season at Utah after transferring from USC.
Oregon State: The Beavers are 2-6 against ranked opponents, and that includes a three-point loss Jan. 27 at then-No. 3 Stanford. Oregon State will need to get hot down the stretch to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2021.
The Utes next play at Oregon Sunday at 3:00 p.m.