Oregon St. used a strong defensive effort for better than 3/4 of the game to build a big lead, and then held off a Washington St. rally to take a 10 point win, and earn a shot at the Pac-12 Championship Sunday night, at 6 PM. ESPN will have the game as the finale of a day's coverage of conference title games.
And it will be against a surprising opponent; its USC that the Beavers will face, in the first ever Pac-10/12 Tournament Championship game that won't involve Stanford.
The Trojans upset the third ranked Cardinal 72-68 in the first game of the evening, stopping Stanford, who has only ever not won the title twice before, short.
As they had last night in beating Utah 50-35, the Oregon St. women jumped out to a fast start, taking 4-0 and 9-2 early leads, and then using a stifling defense to frustrate their opponent.
And they got off to that fast start withoug Sydney Wiese being the key, as Wiese's first basket made it 13-7 Beavers.
Jamie Weisner, in her second game back after a wrist injury that cost her the entire second half of the Pac-12 season, got her first points in her comeback, and a Ruth Hamblin basket and Weisner's 3 opened a 20-9 lead for Oregon St.
The Cougars clawed back with a 5-2 run, but the Beavers answered with an 8-0 run of their own to open the largest lead of the first half, going up 30-14.
Despite missing 3 opportunities at the end of the half, Oregon St. still took a 33-20 lead to the locker room.
Hamblin had 6 points, but also 6 rebounds, and 4 blocked shot in the first half, physically overwhelming anything the Cougs could try to counter her with inside. Wiese had 8 early, on a pair of 3 pointers, and Oregon St. also got a boost from Ali Gibson.
"We moved the ball well," Oregon St. coach Scott Rueck felt; "We need to attack this team."
But the real story of the first half was the defensive job the Beavers did, shutting down the "Tia and Lia" show, holding Tia Presley to just 5 points and 3 rebounds, and Lia Galdera, who was battling a sprained left wrist of her own, to just 3 points.
"This is not [the] Coug basketball pace," Washington St. coach June Daugherty felt; "We need to move better and find our shots."
Taylor Edmondson came off the Washington St. bench for 8 points, which is all that kept the Cougs in it.
Early in the second half, it didn't look like Daugherty's desires were going to be met, as Oregon St. got off to a 4-0 start.
Washington St. did answer with a 4-0 run of their own, but back to back Gibson 3 pointers opened a 43-24 lead less than 6 minutes into the second half.
The Cougs could only get 1 point out of a sequence of multiple looks coming out of a Daugherty time out, a critical hold for the Beavers, and Hamblin opened the first 20 point lead of the game on the other end.
Wiese opened the first of two 22 point leads, the largest of the game, but just as it looked like the Beavers were ready to step on the Cougs' tail for good, Washington St. answered with a 6-1 run.
Still, it was starting to get late, and Wiese's 3rd 3 of the game reopened the lead to 22, putting Oregon St. up 55-33 with only 8:25 left.
Washington St. scored 107 points in their tournament first round win over Oregon, and backed that up with 91 in their upset of California in last night's quarterfinal, so though they had managed only 39 points in 33 minutes against Oregon St., the Cougs were still a dangerous bunch of cats, and showed that the rest of the way.
Washington St. went on an 11-2 run, and then after Gibson and Presley traded 3 pointers, added another 9-4 run, cutting their deficit to 53-64.
Galderia's 3 pointer cut the deficit to a single digit for the first time since 2/3 of the way through the first half, and Presley pulled the Cougs within 8 with a half minute to go.
But Wiese knocked down a pair of free throws to cap her game high 20 point night, and after Presley's 3 pointer missed, the Cougs waved the white flag, and it was time to cue the fight song.
"Our defensive intensity was great," Rueck felt. "We dug deep tonight; we had to. You saw the heart they came back with."
Hamblin just missed a double double, with 11 points and 9 rebounds to go with her 7 blocked shots, and Devin Hunter was a valuable second post punch, with 6 points and a game high 10 rebounds.
But it was outside shooting that shot down the Cougs' upset bid; the Beavers shot a better percentage, 46%, on 3s than they did overall, 44%.
Wiese nailed 4 of 6 from behind the arc, and Gibson finished with 16 points, after making 5 of 9 from long range, and always seemingly at times that deflated the Cougs.
Presley had a strong second half, and finished with 18 points and a team high 9 rebounds, and Galdera also recovered to score 16. Edmonson was also in double digits, with 11 points, but only 3 in the second half, after Oregon St. adjusted for her early outburst.
The win, Oregon St.'s 11th in a row, improved their record to 23-9, while Washington St. finished 17-16, and will probably need to settle for a WNIT bid.
Oregon St. split the season series with USC (21-12). The Trojans handed the Beavers their second worst loss of the season, prevailing 81-60 in the first meeting on Jan. 17 in the Galen Center. Oregon St. bounced back to beat USC 58-48 last month in the rematch at Gill.