Oregon St. bounced back, overcoming a 16 point second half deficit, and 21 turnovers, to escape with a 73-70 win over upset minded Washington St. Friday night, behind a career night by Ruth Hamblin, and an outstanding game by Jamie Weisner.
Fresh off last weekend's back to back routs of Oregon that boosted them to #9 in the nation, their first ever top ten ranking, and sporting brand new uniforms, Oregon St. came out less than focused. Washington St. wasn't impressed, and used a 1-2 punch of the physical Mariah Cooks and the athletic Shalie Dheensaw to at least impede Hamlin.
With the No. 2 and 3 scorers in the Pac-12, Lia Galdeira and Tia Presley, both off to a fast start, Washington St. didn't play like a team that had lost 3 straight, and Oregon St. found themselves down 8 at the under 8 media timeout, then double digits behind, and ultimately a dozen back 1:25 before the break, before scrambling back within 9 at the half, trailing 39-30.
The Cougs came out of the locker room with another 5-0 run, and went up 16 when back to back baskets by Galdeira just over 3 minutes into the second half.
Hamblin, above, and Weisner led the rally, but multiple turnovers and run-out baskets made it a prolonged process, and Oregon St. didn't catch up until Gabriella Hanson's free throws with 7:43 to go, and finally took a 1 point lead with just over 6 minutes left, on another free throw by Weisner.
Despite the game being allowed to be played very physically, free throw shooting was a major factor in Oregon St.'s comeback, as the Beavers were shooting the bonus with 12:22 to go, and the double bonus at the 9:49 mark.
Galdeira, Presley, and Dheensaw all wound up with 4 fouls.
But Oregon St. couldn't pull away, and 9 lead changes ensued, before a Weisner 3 pointer put the Beavers ahead for good, up 68-67 with 2:45 to go.
No one had any idea who would win at that point though, and it was still a 1 point game with 24 seconds to go, after Galdeira made a free throw, but failed to tie the game on the second shot from the line.
Hamblin hit a pair of free throws on the other end a second later, but the Beavers literally nearly threw the game away, throwing back to back unforced turnovers.
The Cougars contributed an unforced turnover of their own though, but Deven Hunter missed a pair of free throws, either of which would have sealed the win.
Galdeira missed a 3 pointer for the tie as time wound down, and the ball went out of bounds. At the same time, Dheensaw went down hard in the rebound battle, quieting what had been a wild crowd of 3,087 all during the rally and battle down the stretch.
Dheensaw remained down for nearly 5 minutes, and left the floor post game in a wheel chair, with an apparent potentially serious right knee injury.
It delayed the official review that determined it was the Beavers ball with 1 second left, and was apparently so serious that it prompted Washington St. coach June Daugherty, who had a tremendous game plan against the Beavers, to concede, having the Cougs back off when the situation called for a foul before the ball could be inbounded to force Oregon St. to make a free throw, or be at risk of a post-timeout 3 point shot that could have still forced overtime.
Hamblin had a huge game, with a career high 31 points, 19 of which came after halftime, 16 rebounds for a double double, and 7 blocked shots, all 3 stats game highs.
Weisner, below, added 25 points and 7 more boards, with 17 of the points coming in the second half.
Hamblin shot 75% from the floor, making 12 of 16 shots, and Weisner was right behind, shooting 73%, knocked down by shooting "only" 50% from 3 point range.
Hamblin and Weise carried almost the entire load for Oregon St., as Sydney Wiess was the only other Beaver in double digits, with 10 points, and 9 of those came in the first half.
Hunter was held scoreless, though she did have a couple of key blocked shots as well, and 8 rebounds, and Ali Gibson made only 1 shot, though it was a huge 3 pointer with just over 9 minutes to go that had made it a 2 point deficit.
Galdeira, above, led Washington St. with 21 points, and Presley added 17. Dheensaw had a double double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
"This was huge, because we haven't really been tested like that yet this year," Hamblin said. "We really had to rally, and I think we did a great job of just remaining calm, and making the plays that we needed to in order to get the win."
Oregon St.'s last 27 wins, a run that dates back to a 72-57 win against, ironically, Washington St., last Jan. 26, have all been by double digits.
Oregon St. improved to 15-1, and 5-0 in the Pac-12, both their best starts ever, while Washington St. slid to 10-6, and 1-4 in conference.
The Beavers will host Washington on Monday evening, an early 5 PM start on Martin Luther King Day. They will need better ball security and better balance if they are to continue their quest for the Pac-12 title though.
But for the moment, all hail the Canadian Hammer, and que the fight song!