- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - When in crunch time, Oregon State wants Roberto Nelson to have the ball.

Nelson scored six of his 15 points in overtime, including the go-ahead free throw with 2:50 remaining, to pace Oregon State to a 78-76 victory over Arizona State Saturday.

Jermaine Marshall’s 3-pointer with 19.5 seconds to play in regulation time capped Arizona State’s comeback from a 14-point deficit in the second half and forced overtime with the score tied at 67.

The Beavers (16-14, 8-10 Pac-12) earned a split of the two-game season series with ASU and snapped a four-game losing streak against the Sun Devils (21-10, 10-8) that had stretched over four seasons.

Eric Moreland added 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for Oregon State. Devon Collier had 12 points starting in place of sophomore guard Langston Morris-Walker, who Beavers coach Craig Robinson said was suspended by the university Thursday evening for an unspecified rules violation.

Robinson said it was unclear if Morris-Walker would be reinstated before Wednesday’s Pac-12 Tournament opener against No. 7 seed Oregon at 6 p.m. in Las Vegas.

Jahii Carson led ASU with 24 points and Jonathan Gilling added 20 for the Sun Devils, who shot 41 percent (25 of 61) to Oregon State’s 47.5 percent (28 of 59).

Despite the loss, the Sun Devils held onto the No. 3 seed and earned an automatic berth into Thursday’s conference tournament quarterfinals.

Nelson, who came into the game averaging 20.8 points a game, made 6 of 16 shots from the field and all but locked up the Pac-12 scoring title, making him the fifth Oregon State player to lead the conference in scoring and the first since Gary Payton in 1990.

Nelson owned the overtime period, scoring a basket off his own miss to tie the score at 71, making 1 of 2 free throws the made it 72-71, and then knocking down a 3-pointer with 21.6 seconds left that extended the lead to 76-72.

“In overtime, when guys are tired, that’s when your seniors and your best players have to take over,” Robinson said. “We made sure we got the ball in his (Nelson’s) hands. Even though he wasn’t having a good game, he’s the guy you want to have the ball because of the kinds of plays he made.”

Nelson, who had seven points on 3-for-11 shooting in regulation, said he looked to attack the basket in overtime.

“I knew some of their key players were in foul trouble,” Nelson said. “I just wanted to be aggressive and try to go make plays. My team has confidence in me and that gives me a lot of confidence going into late-game situations.”

After Shaquielle McKissic made 1 of 2 free throws to pull ASU within 76-73, OSU’s Hallice Cooke made two free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining to help put the game out of reach.

“We had destiny in our own hands and we didn’t take care of it,” said Arizona State coach Herb Sendek, who pointed to the Beavers’ 21-11 advantage in second-chance points and their 22-19 edge in points off turnovers as the difference in the game.

The Beavers disrupted Arizona State’s offense throughout the first half by consistently pressuring the ball with two defenders and sometimes three. The Sun Devils struggled to break the pressure, and when they did find the open man, they struggled to make open shots.

ASU’s Jermaine Marshall, second in team scoring entering the game, was held 10 points below his season average, finishing with five points on 1-for-12 shooting, including 1 of 8 from long range.

The Sun Devils came up empty on six of seven possessions to open the game, going 0 for 6 from the field with two turnovers as the Beavers raced to a 9-1 lead.

After three lead changes, Moreland hit a free-throw line jumper to touch off a 14-7 run over the final 6:30 of the first half that gave the Beavers a 33-28 lead at the break.

Malcolm Duvivier had 11 first-half points off the bench for the Beavers, who shot 45.5 percent (10 of 22) in the half to ASU’s 36 percent (9 of 25). OSU led 33-28 at half and had a 10-2 edge in second-chance points.

“Our guys kept battling,” Sendek said. “We put ourselves in a hole with a 9-1 start, and then when it opened up to a 14-point spread in the second half, it just leaves you no room for error.”

Nelson, the only Pac-12 player to average more than 20 points a game, also became the first OSU player to lead the Beavers in scoring, assists, steals, 3-point field goals, and minutes since Deaundra Tanner in 2000.

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