OSU Women Awaiting Their Fate After Early Exit In LA

Oregon St.'s Earlysia Marchbanks scored 8 straight points to lead a second half Beaver rally that fell short against Washington St. in the Pac-12 tournament opening round. Will the Beavers' senior get to play again in the NIT? (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

The Oregon St. women's basketball team was 1 of 3 higher seeds to the Pac-12 Wonem's Baketball Tournament last week that lost on the first day, and have been sitting and waiting for tonight's selection announcements to learn if they have any more hoops ahead of them. Thee NCAA tournament at large berths and seeding will be announced at 4 PM PDT today, and after than, the Women's NIT will know which teams with an automatic bid dribble down to them, and can then fill out their at-large bracket, and announce seeds, dates and sites.

It was a game of runs, and Washington St. made the first and last one, resulting in a 65-56 win. After a 2-2 tie, the Cougars went on a 15-0 run, while the Beavers went without scoring for 7 1/2 minutes.

Oregon St. made a 6-0 run of their own in the last 1 1/2 minutes before halftime, pulling back within 32-27.

The Beavers fell behind by 10 points again, but then made an 11-2 run, during which Earlysia Marchbanks scored 4 consecutive baskets for Oregon St.. Mollee Schwegler's free throw pulled the Beavers within 1 point, down 45-44 with 8:52 left.

But Oregon St. only got within 4 points one more time, and found themselves down 11 at the 1:13 mark, and were still 10 behind with a minute to go.

Ali Gunther had a game high 19 points, and Marchbanks posted a double double, with 16 points, and 11 rebounds.

The fatal problem for the Beavers, other than the cold start offensively that dug themselves into a hole too deep to quite climb out of, was their perimeter shooting. Oregon St. made only 2 of 20 3 point shots, 10%.

After opening day, there was only 1 more upset, and curiously, that was also by the Cougs, who knocked out USC 69-55.

But this is the Pac-12, and Stanford and California play here. Both the Cardinal and Bears destroyed all opposition, with the Bears eliminating the Cougs Friday, and then Stanford easily claimed the Tournament Championship to go along with the regular season championship, downing California 77-62.

We have all seen that basic outcome before.

Tournaments Moving Out Of LA

There was one other interesting piece of news out of the Tournament, that it will be held in Seattle, at Key Arena, next year, and at least through 2015. It will be announced tomorrow that the men's tournament will be moving to Las Vegas next year as well.

ESPN2 will televise at least some of the games, giving the conference increased exposure.

The moves will end the practice of holding both tournaments in the same city, and it will be interesting to see if it actually helps attendance at the women's tournament, as well as the atmosphere, where there is some fanbase crossover from the men's side that obviously won't be possible.

And, for example, the Beaver's pep band has played for both teams in the tournaments in the past. (And did a great job of being heard on both tv and radio, by the way.) But Oregon St. won't pay for a full band, sending only a stripped-down version. It's hard to see them spending the money to support the women with the rest of the band in the future.

Beaver Postseason Prospects

In mid-February, Oregon St. was setting with a 17-7 record, and appeared to have a great shot at an NCAA tournament bid, with the majority of their remaining games against teams they had already defeated.

But the Beavers stumbled down the stretch, losing their last 3 games, and 5 of their final 6, leaving their record 18-12, and 9-7 in conference, and effectively ending their NCAA dreams.

Whether the improvement the Beavers showed this season, doubling their win total from last year, will be enough to impress the NIT remains to be seen. The factors working against Oregon St. are a soft non-conference schedule, and the fact that they only went 2-6 against the "Southwest teams", the California and Arizona programs, including going 0-4 against the Bay Area powerhouses.

Beaver Nation will have their fingers crossed this evening.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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