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SI alum Begovich gets his moment, but Stanford falls on Senior Day

MAPLES PAVILION — Generally speaking, Stanford’s home finale on Saturday afternoon, a 73-62 Senior Day loss to the Oregon State Beavers was one to forget.

The pregame ceremonies and first 107 seconds were worth remembering, though.

St. Ignatius alumnus Daniel Begovich, a manager-turned-walk-on who had logged all of eight career minutes over the course of seven appearances, was honored alongside fellow seniors Daejon Davis and Oscar da Silva before the game and got to make his first career start, playing the first minute and 47 seconds before giving way to younger members of the roster.

“Daniel’s a fantastic person and a person of great character,” head coach Jerod Haase said. “He’s been an important part of our program and I feel lucky to know him.”

Even without the typical home crowd and with Senior Day ceremonies reduced to video messages from friends and family, for Begovich to get his time in the spotlight meant the world to Haase.

“Even though his minutes have been extremely limited, he’s had a huge impact on this program,” the fifth-year head coach said.

The pregame ceremonies included a message from his mother, older brother Joseph and “Aunt Condi,” known more commonly to the world as Condoleezza Rice. The former Secretary of State was roommates with Begovich’s mother at Stanford. Their words were followed by a message from his younger brother, Neal, a redshirt freshman on the team.

As for the rest of the game, the Cardinal frequently had three freshmen on the floor at a time as Oregon State (13-11, 9-9 Pac-12) overcame an early 10-point deficit with a 14-0 surge, took the lead for good with 13:51 remaining and stretched a two-point advantage to 11 over the final five minutes behind a career-high 26 points for Jarod Lucas, who has become a thorn in the Cardinal’s side. He scored 22 when the teams met earlier this season, an 81-71 Stanford victory in Corvallis, and scored 21 last year when the Beavers won at Maples Pavilion.

Combine Lucas’ big outing with 13 points from Ethan Thompson, 10 from lanky forward Warith Alatishe, and the Beavers emerged with just their third road win of the season against a Stanford team that was without leading scorer Oscar da Silva for a second straight game after suffering a foot injury.

Though it was Senior Day, the highly-touted freshman class certainly gave Stanford (14-11, 10-9) a few reasons to be optimistic about the future. Ziaire Williams put together a second straight solid performance, scoring eight of his 13 points during his own personal 8-2 run to give his team the lead midway through the first half. After the Beavers erased a 29-19 deficit with their biggest surge of the game, capped off by a dunk from Cameroonian freshman Rodrigue Andela, it was the Stanford youngsters who took flight as Noah Taitz scored on a drive to the basket and Brandon Angel, a freshman from San Diego who had only played 18 minutes all month, knocked down a three from the corner to give the home side a 34-33 lead going into the half.

If that quick spurt generated any momentum, it certainly didn’t last for long. Stanford suddenly couldn’t hold onto the ball in the second half, committing an alarming 11 turnovers over the final 20 minutes and 16 for the game, and Davis was subbed out with 18:21 left and never returned.

“We were disjointed and lacked cohesion like no other time this year,” Haase commented.

Junior forward Lukas Kisunas finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, including back-to-back baskets to cut the Oregon State lead to 46-44 with just over 11 minutes left, but the Beavers responded with baskets in the paint from Alatishe, Andela and senior center Roman Silva to prompt Haase to call a timeout. The Cardinal would get within two again with 5:33 left as freshman guard Michael O’Connell knocked down a three and fed Bryce Wills for a dunk, but the visitors would get the next nine points to pull away as Thompson knocked down a three, Lucas was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Wills with the shot clock winding down and Lucas would drain another three after the game’s final TV timeout.

Stanford finishes with a 2-4 record at Maples Pavilion, having been forced to play elsewhere for much of December and January after Santa Clara County handed down harsh COVID-19 restrictions on team sports. The Cardinal will conclude the regular season on Wednesday with a trip to USC.

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