You had to be persistent to stay with it to the conclusion, but Stanford and Oregon State rewarded viewers Saturday night with a three-hour-plus, four-overtime game won by the Cardinal, 103-101.
I couldn’t immediately track down where the game stands in terms of longest Pac-12/10/8 contests in history, but I do know this: There’s at least one longer — Oregon lost a five-overtime game at Cal in 1977, in which a couple of players saw 63 minutes of action.
The game in Corvallis is significant on two fronts, aside from its length. Stanford’s is the closest thing you’ll find in the Pac-12 to a resume that the NCAA basketball committee might find appealing, and this was a breakthrough victory for the Cardinal, the best win so far in the young conference season (pending Cal’s appearance tonight at Oregon). As was noted here Friday, there’s precious little on the league’s overall pre-conference resume, but Stanford has wins over Colorado State and North Carolina State, which Sunday were Nos. 29 and 58, respectively, in the RealtimeRPI.com rankings. The Beavers aren’t of that ilk (No. 135), but they were seen as a probable top-half finisher in the league, so that kind of road win is important.
Conversely, OSU has hit a serious bump in its quest to get to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990. The Beavers had only two non-league losses, but they’ve now (a) dropped one at home, and (b) lost a road game against one of the most vulnerable teams in the league, Washington State. So OSU, also with a road loss at Washington, now has five losses.
In case you missed the game, Stanford’s Josh Owens appeared to have it won at the end of regulation when he intercepted a point-blank outlet pass by OSU’s Eric Moreland with a couple of seconds left under the Stanford basket. Owens gathered himself and laid the ball over the rim, but replays showed it to have come just a hair too late to beat the buzzer. The decision was just about as close as one can be.
Not every play in the overtimes was especially cerebral; there were bad shots taken, foolish fouls made. But there was no lack of want-to, and the Cardinal escaped as freshman Chasson Randle had a strong fourth overtime after Bellevue product Aaron Bright had fouled out.
Be interesting to see how the two teams react to a physically and mentally draining game. The Beavers have the tallest task, not only having lost but visiting the Arizona schools this week. Stanford goes home and gets Utah and Colorado.