VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Oregon State once again went toe-to-toe with Notre Dame on Saturday night, but like the first three times, the Beavers came up on the short end of the scoreboard.
No. 9 Oregon State led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but foul trouble and the experience and talent of No. 1 Notre Dame proved to be too much down the stretch.
The Fighting Irish closed the game on a 14-4 run to pull away for a 91-81 women’s basketball victory in the Vancouver Showcase title game.
“Very encouraging to compete like we did this early in the year,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “Obviously we’ve got to get a lot better and we will. The heart that this team played with, the way they prepared, the way they executed the game plan for most of the time, we just played with a few too many mistakes to beat the best team in the country at this point in the year. We’ve got to get better and we will.”
It was the second time the Beavers had faced the No. 1 team. They lost to UConn in the 2016 national semifinals in Indianapolis and the Huskies went on to win their fourth straight national title.
The Beavers lost a tough 72-67 decision at home last season to the Irish, and also lost 70-58 at home in 2013 and 62-61 at Notre Dame in 2015.
Destiny Slocum lead the Beavers with 22 points and Mikayla Pivec added 17, while Kat Tudor chipped in 16 and Aleah Goodman 10 off the bench on Saturday.
The reigning champion Fighting Irish got 23 points from Jackie Young, 21 each from Arike Ogunbowale and Brianna Turner, as well as 17 from Jessica Shepard.
The Beavers (5-1) had led by 12 after one quarter, nine at the half and two going to the third before the Fighting Irish were finally able to get over the hump.
Notre Dame tied the game at 70, the first deadlock since 5-5, then took its first lead on a bucket by Shephard. The Irish lead was 74-71 before a 4-0 run by the Beavers.
Tied at 77, Marina Mabrey, who had not played this season, drained a deep 3-pointer with 3:21 left to start the decisive 10-0 run for the Irish. She finished with nine points.
“This is a team that’s used to winning every game,” Rueck said of the Irish. “And the big games. They were poised down the stretch and they made the plays and they just out-executed us.
“So it gave us a blueprint of where we need to go. So I’m thankful for that and I was really proud of our team for the fight that they played with.”
Pivec and Slocum each said the Beavers can take a lot from the game and the tournament as they move forward this season.
“The second half we just weren’t on the same page so coming out in the third and fourth quarters as well as we start the game (is a) big key,” Pivec said. “Just learning how to work together better defensively and offensively in terms of our go t plays down the stretch.”
Added Slocum: “Just us being able to play our basketball and maintain our lead is something that I think over the season is what we’re going to develop and we can use that from this game.”
While the game ended with a sour taste, it began about as well as the Beavers could have hoped.
OSU shot the lights out in the first quarter, hitting 12 of 17 attempts from the floor, including a 5-for-7 performance from 3-point range. Joanna Grymek’s putback at the buzzer put the Beavers up 29-17.
The lead reached 14 twice, the second time on Slocum’s pull up 3 in the face of a defender to make it 38-24 with just under eight minutes left in the half.
But the Irish used a 7-0 run to cut the deficit in half and eventually got as close as 43-39 before OSU closed the quarter off with a 7-2 run for a 50-41 lead.
The Beavers ended the half hitting 17 of 31 shots from the floor, including 6 of 11 3-pointers. The Irish were just 15 for 36 overall and 3 for 9 from 3.
Slocum had 14 points, Tudor 10 and Pivec nine for the Beavers while Young had 12 and Shepard and Ogunbowale 10 each.
The Beavers, however, were in a bit of foul trouble as five players had two fouls at the half — Slocum, Pivec, Tudor, Taya Corosdale and Goodman.
Corosdale picked up two quick ones in the third and had to sit. That was a big play, Rueck said.
“It killed us in both halves,” he said. “We just execute at a different level when she’s on the floor. … We’ve got to be able to adapt, we’ve got to stay out of foul trouble and keep people on the floor.”
The Beavers were outrebounded 39-33 and gave up 13 offensive boards.
“We didn’t rebound like we need to and that was really exposed the last two days and so you play these game so that you can get better,” Rueck said. “It’s a long season so I’m thankful we had the opportunity to play in this tournament.”
Slocum and Pivec were both named to the all-tournament team.
The Beavers will have a week off before hosting LaSalle at noon on Dec. 1.
“I’m just proud of our team,” Slocum said of Saturday’s effort. “We came out and played OSU basketball and we did what we had to do. It’s early in the season, we’re going to use it as motivation to go father with it.”