CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon State coach Scott Rueck believes his team gained some confidence and played their best game of the year despite falling short against No. 2 Notre Dame.
"This team competed for 40 minutes, just laser focus. We know we can play with anybody," Rueck said after the Beavers lost 70-58 to the Irish on Sunday.
Jamie Weisner led Oregon State (8-4) with 18 points, and Ruth Hamblin added 12 points, eight rebounds and tied a school record with nine blocks.
"They definitely have elite athletes on the perimeter, so I was just there as our second line of defense," she said, adding that the game was the best of her life.
Weisner was also pleased with her team's play.
"We had a lot of turnovers down the stretch. We totally could have won that game," Weisner said.
Kayla McBride had 20 points for the Irish (11-0) and Natalie Achonwa had 16 and eight rebounds.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw felt her unbeaten Notre Dame squad hadn't been tested this season before this game.
"It's a huge win for us," she said. "It's great to be behind and have a close game at the end and see how we respond."
Notre Dame trailed at halftime for the first time this season, 31-33.
McBride said the road game before a hostile crowd of more than 4,000 people felt like an NCAA tournament matchup.
"I know we have a target on our back and everybody is going to bring us their best game," she said. "They played so hard, and I respect that a lot."
McBride added that she expected the Beavers to make "a lot of noise" in the Pac-12.
Oregon State didn't trail in the first half afterAli Gibson 3-pointer with 13:06 left. The Beavers led 26-33 after Hamblin's put-back with 55 seconds left.
The Irish scored the next five points to pull within two at the break, and then scored the first six points of the second half to take the lead for good.
Notre Dame entered Sunday leading the nation in field goal percentage (.522) and 3-point shooting (.449), but the Irish shot 36 percent in the half and 1 for 6 on 3s.
With 1:25 left, Ariel Braker got a steal off an inbounds play for Oregon State, and McBride sank a jumper to make the score 66-58. Braker blocked Weisner on the Beavers' next possession.
Weisner, a sophomore guard, entered the contest as the Beavers' top scorer with 14.9 points per game.Oregon State has a young team, with four underclassmen starters.
The Beavers were coming off a 74-41 win over Clemson on Dec. 21.
In the Beavers' only other matchup against a ranked team so far this season, they lost 61-56 to then-No. 13 Penn State on Nov. 29.
The Beavers' last win against a ranked team was in 2003, and its most recent win against a top 5 team was in 1992.
Sunday's game was the start of a tough stretch for Oregon State, which opens Pac-12 play next week with games against No. 23 California and No. 4 Stanford.
"How does it get better than this?" Rueck asked. "We play in one of the best conferences in the country, we're young and all that. I don't care. I mean, I feel like we can win every night."
Sophomore Jewell Loyd, last year's national freshman of the year, came into the game leading the Irish by averaging 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. She scored 10 on Sunday.
The Irish reached the Final Four the last three years, and played for the championship in 2011 and 2012. This is Notre Dame's best start since 2009-10, when the Irish began 15-0.
Notre Dame's next game is Jan. 2 against South Dakota State.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.