CORVALLIS, Ore. — This time was different.
After coming up short in wild close finishes the past two years, the Utah Utes finally came out on top at Gill Coliseum.
Justin Bibbins scored 16 points and David Collette finished with 12 as the Utes outlasted Oregon State 66-64.
“It’s kind of been the case with Oregon State and us coming right down to the wire and tooth and nail,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It was a great win for us.”
Leading 66-64 after a free throw by Sedrick Barefield with 21.4 seconds remaining, the Utes survived a late barrage by Oregon State. The Beavers missed two 3-point attempts and a tip-in over the final 11 seconds. They rebounded each of the misses before turning the ball over on an in-bounds violation (after a favorable possession arrow on a jump ball) with 1.4 ticks remaining. Following a timeout, Tyler Rawson made a long pass to Collette and time expired.
“It started to look a lot like last year again,” said Collette, who recalled the 68-67 setback the Utes suffered here in 2016. “It all started to come back from last year and we decided we weren’t going to let that happen.”
The Utes, he continued, stepped up and took over again.
However, things got a bit crazy beforehand.
Oregon State, paced by standouts Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr., erased a six-point halftime deficit and took a 51-45 lead with 12:11 left to play. Shortly thereafter, the Beavers held a 53-47 edge.
That’s when Utah got real defensive. The Utes didn’t allow a field goal for nearly eight minutes to climb back into contention. They regained the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Parker Van Dyke with 9:43 remaining.
It was the only shot Utah made from behind the arc in the second half.
Krystkowiak noted it was “a tale of two halves.” He said the Utes were really good on offense in the first half and then it became kind of a defensive struggle in the second.
“It’s hard to win on the road,” Krystkowiak said. “You’ve got a lot of things going against you and our guys stuck together.”
The whole key away from home, he explained, is to get into position where you can win the game in the end.
Utah led 38-32 at halftime. The Utes attacked the Beavers from long range — 10 of their 12 field goals in the first half were 3-pointers. Bibbins led the way with four treys. Caldwell added three.
“We shared the ball, played the right way, made open shots,” Bibbins said. “And that’s what we’ve been wanting to do.”
Defense also played a role in Utah’s lead. The Utes held Oregon State scoring leader Tinkle to just five points on 1-of-7 shooting. Thompson, who had 31 points in a win against the Utes last season, had only three over the first 20 minutes.
The Beavers jumped out to a 5-0 advantage before the Utes took their first lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from Tyler Rawson and Gabe Bealer.
After a couple of lead changes and a tie, Utah went on a 13-4 run to take a 22-13 edge midway through the half. Bibbins hit two 3-pointers and Kolbe Caldwell connected on one during the outburst.
Oregon State responded with a 12-2 spurt, though, to regain the lead at 25-24 entering the final five minutes. Utah went outside again and retaliated with four 3-pointers — two each from Bibbins and Caldwell — to pull back in front at 36-28 with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
The Utes entered the intermission shooting 50 percent (12 of 24) from the field. “We just shot what the defense gave us,” Bibbins said. “At that point we were swinging the ball, got great looks and we just knocked them down.”
Sunday afternoon’s victory completed a sweep of the Oregon schools, improving Utah’s record to 10-3 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play. The Utes host Arizona and Arizona State next week.
“Good wins. Good team wins,” said Bibbins, who acknowledged they’ll have momentum going into games against the nationally ranked Wildcats and Sun Devils in the Huntsman Center. “We’re happy to get back to Salt Lake.”