STANFORD, Calif. — Neither team would give an inch. In the end, a big block opened the door to victory.
When Oregon State’s Ahmad Starks hit a jumper to tie Sunday’s game at Stanford with under 13 minutes to play, the Pac-12 Conference matchup was obviously going to go down to the wire. And that’s how things played out with 10 lead changes the rest of the way.
Stanford’s Josh Huestis, one of the team’s top players on defense, hit a key basket among his 16 points and then made a key block in the final minute as Stanford held off the Beavers, 81-73.
“I’ll take the blocked shot over scoring because it does so much for the team,” Huestis said. “It helps us defensively by stopping them from scoring and gives us another opportunity to go on offense. Defense is a huge part of our game.”
Chasson Randle scored 20 points for the Cardinal (14-8, 5-4), who have won three in a row and five of their last seven. Dwight Powell added 14 points and John Gage scored 12.
Huestis, who also had 13 rebounds, blocked a shot by Devon Collier in the final minute that helped Stanford stop the Beavers, who were within two points at the time. Powell was fouled on the play and sank both free throws as the Cardinal made all eight of their foul shots down the stretch.
“Josh is like an eraser,” Randle said. “Anything to the basket I count on him taking it out. He’s been a key for us.”
Joe Burton had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Beavers (12-10, 1-8). Roberto Nelson scored 20 points and Ahmad Starks scored 15.
“They were picked to be very good at the very beginning of the season and they’re living up to it now, that’s all,” Beavers coach Craig Robinson said. “They have very good players. Powell’s probably a pro, I’m not sure Randle’s not a pro, either. That kid is good. Then the rest of their pieces fit. Whenever you can shoot like that, it doesn’t matter how well you play, you have an advantage.”
Powell hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Stanford a 71-66 edge with 3:21 left. The Cardinal recorded a season-high 14 3-pointers.
“We had to make shots,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “Throw records out the window, that’s a good team. It shows you where our conference is with so much parity.”
There are seven teams, Stanford included, within two games of first place as the Pac-12 reached its halfway point.
The Beavers have only lost one game by more than 10 points all season, and have lost their previous four by a combined 15 points.
“Our guys made plays,” Robinson said. “It’s disappointing but I feel like our guys are making progress.”
Nelson scored the final six points of the first half, drawing OSU to within 35-33 at the intermission.
The Beavers raced to an 8-0 lead to open the game, taking advantage of Stanford’s early shooting woes.
Randle helped get the Cardinal going, scoring six points during a 14-0 run that eventually gave Stanford a 26-17 edge.
After going scoreless against USC, Randle has reached double figures in eight straight games.