CORVALLIS -- The Beavers didn't need to be perfect Wednesday night, but with an upset of No. 3 Arizona within their grasp, they definitely needed to be better.
Turnovers, missed free throws and an inability to close out a tight game ultimately led to a 74-69 loss to the Wildcats in Pac-12 men's basketball.
Roberto Nelson scored 25 points and Devon Collier had 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for Oregon State (15-14, 7-10 Pac-12), which was backed by crowd of 5,651 that created as raucous an atmosphere as there has been at Gill Coliseum this season.
But none of that could make up for the Beavers' 17 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Wildcats, or making just 5-of-14 free throws in the second half, and 16-of-29 overall.
"Man, there were so many things we could've done to win the game and there were so many opportunities we had," Nelson said. "This was one of those that stings a little bit more. ... We've been preaching that we can play with anybody. We're a team full of fighters and I think we showed it tonight, but I think people will overlook this with the loss."
Nick Johnson led the Wildcats (28-2, 15-2) with 25 points, but it was a basket down low by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 3:46 to play that put Arizona up 66-64, and the Beavers were outscored 10-5 the rest of the way.
Oregon State, which hasn't defeated a team ranked in the top five since beating No. 3 Arizona in 2000, was left to lament its missed chances in the second half.
After making 13 of its first 17 free throws, Oregon State made just 3 of 12 in the final 12:40.
The Beavers also had turnovers on three straight possessions following Hollis-Jefferson's go-ahead basket.
"You can't beat a team that's that good, that's that highly ranked, without doing most of the things right," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. "You can get away with some mistakes, but you can't make too many mistakes against a team like that. They're just too good."
Nelson's 25 points came on 7-of-22 shooting from the field. The senior guard was also 9-for-13 from the free-throw line. His four missed foul shots came late in the game, starting when he missed 2 of 3 attempts with 6:08 to play and the score tied 61-61.
"Terrible. Terrible," Nelson said. "I make those free throws, I think we have a better chance of winning. I don't know."
Hallice Cooke also scored 10 points and Eric Moreland had a game-high 12 rebounds for Oregon State, which shot 44.4 percent from the field compared with 42.1 percent for Arizona.
When Arizona jumped out to a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game, it looked like Oregon State was going to be in for a long night.
But Collier came off the bench and ignited the Beavers with a three-point play to get them on the board. Nelson followed with a three-pointer and Cooke capped a 10-2 run with a steal and layup to put Oregon State up 10-9 with 14:13 to play in the half.
The Wildcats appeared to be putting the game out of reach again with a 12-4 run late to give them their largest lead of the half, 31-22 with 3:53 left. The final points of that stretch came on an alley-oop in transition from T.J. McConnell to Johnson.
The Beavers regrouped during a timeout and followed with six straight points on a three-pointer by Olaf Schaftenaar, a putback by Collier and free throws from Nelson to cut their deficit to 31-29 and they went into halftime trailing just 36-33.
After Arizona scored the first four points of the second half to go up 40-33, Oregon State answered with the next seven to tie it up and it was back-and-forth until the game's final minutes.
"I like the way we battled, I like the way we played, I like the way we executed," Robinson said. "We fought hard. I thought it was extremely adverse conditions in our own gym and our guys played extremely hard."
It just needed to be closer to perfect.
Follow Chris on Twitter @chansen_RG.