9th ranked Oregon St. used a 13-2 run to close out a serious upset bid by Washington Monday, taking the 75-67 Martin Luther King Day win much as they did to open the weekend sweep of the Washington school, behind the 1-2 punch of Jamie Weisner and Ruth Hamblin.
Weisner shot 60% from the field, including 67% on 3 pointers, making 6 of 9, a career high, for a game high 26 points, and Hamblin, fresh off being named the Pac-12 Player of the Week, after career highs of 31 points and 16 rebounds in Friday's 73-70 win over Washington St., turned in another double double, with 19 points and 10 rebounds, along with another 4 blocked shots.
The Beavers needed all of it though, as the Huskies not only hung around, they took 3 point leads twice in the second half, the second when Kelsey Plum finally hit double digits scoring, putting Washington up 65-65 with just under 6 minutes left.
That prompted Oregon St. coach Scott Rueck into a timeout to setup for the stretch drive, and it would be as dominant a 5 minutes as had happened at any time all afternoon, as Washington, which had used a 15-4 run of their own, was unable to score from the floor again, and the Beavers pulled away.
The game was a close contest early, tied at 22 apiece 7 1/2 minutes before halftime, and before Oregon St. went on a 12-3 run that appeared to signal that the bigger Beavers might be taking control of the contest.
Washington rallied back to within 34-30 at the break, and 3 points by Talia Walton to start the second half had the Huskies back within 1 point though.
2 blocks by Hamblin and 2 3 pointers by Weisner restored order for Oregon St., and the Beavers went up 9 on Sydney Wiese's 3 pointer that made it 43-34 not 3 minutes into the second half.
But Weisner had also accumulated her third personal foul, and had to sit down for about 5 minutes, during which time Washington worked their way back within 5 points.
This happened despite a stellar defensive job by the Beavers on Plum, the #2 scorer in the nation, who made only 1 of her first 14 shots.
However, Walton was running out of control, and carried Washington much of the early portion of the game, on her way to a Husky high 22 points, including 5 made 3 pointers.
Another Weisner 3 pointer made it 53-45 Oregon St. with 11 minutes to go, but the Beavers only managed a Gabriella Hanson 3 pointer and a Deven Hunter basket over almost a 4 minute stretch, during which Washington rallied within 1 point.
During this stretch, the faster Huskies consistently out-ran the Beavers, who struggled to get back on defense when Washington pushed the pace.
Oregon St. got the game back into more of a half-court game, going to Hamblin, above, for a basket. Hamblin shot 58% from the floor, making 7 of 12 shots in the game.
Aminah Williams and Walton hit back to back 3 pointers to take a 3 point lead, and after Hamblin hit again to keep it a 1 possession game, Plum put down what no one would have expected to be the Huskies' last basket of the evening.
Samantha Siegner pulled Oregon St. within 1 point on a lane cut on an inbound pass from Ali Gibson, and Weisner put Oregon St. ahead for good 4 minutes from the finish.
The Beavers buried 7 free throws in a row, with another Hamblin basket thrown in for good measure, but it was Hamblin's defensive presence that altered more than one shot, and Weisner, who was everywhere, even grabbing 3 rebounds in the last 3 1/2 minutes of the game, that thwarted the upset effort.
Weisner would wind up with 8 boards from her guard spot, behind only Hamblin and Hunter, who had a game high dozen rebounds, for what was a 46-35 edge on the boards for the Beavers.
Washington had offensive balance, with Jazmine Davis adding 15 points, and Williams 13, in addition to Plum's 10, which averted by the narrowed margin what would have been only her second game ever not in double digits for the Huskies. All 5 Husky starters hit at least one 3 point shot.
The Beaver defense held the Huskies to under 33% shooting from the field, after allowing only 29% in the first half, while shooting 42% for the game themselves, after a 43% first half.
The win improved Oregon St. to 16-1 for the season, and 6-0 in the Pac-12, keeping the Beavers in a first place tie with 13th ranked Arizona St. The Sun Devils improved to 17-1, and 6-0 in conference, with a 60-57 win at Stanford in the first half of the MKL Pac-12 Channel double header. It was Arizona St.'s first win in Palo Alto in 31 years, and only their second ever.
Oh by the way, the Beavers and Sun Devils will square off next Sunday afternoon at 2 PM in Tempe (1 PM PST).
Last year's meeting in Tempe was a 2 point ASU win, and the last regular season Pac-12 loss OSU has suffered.
Oregon St. has a side trip to Tucson to take on Arizona on Friday first though. The 'Cats are tied for last in the Pac-12 with Utah, and are winless in 6 conference contests.
Washington dropped only their 4th game of the season, and are now 14-4 for the season, but 3-3 in the Pac-12.
This weekend's sweep of good Washington schools, both of which came as a result of strong finishes, were the kind of games Oregon St. was losing with some regularity as recently as a couple of seasons ago, and represents arguably the biggest step forward Coach Rueck and crew have made, among many.
Since the middle of last season, the Beavers have avoided having to win close games most nights by blowing a lot of opponents out. But eventually, good teams are going to take any team to the limit, and Oregon St. is finding confidence in such situations by finding a way.
Tonight was a good example, where they looked appropriately to Weisner and Hamblin, but also overcame a very difficult shooting night by both Gibson and Wiese, who finished with only 1 made basket each, on a dozen shots.
But Wiese got to the free throw line 4 times, knocking down all of them, and sparked the offense with 12 assists. Gibson had 3 steals, including one off of Plum with 1:22 to go, and the game still a 1 possession contest, as well as 3 assists, 3 steals, and a blocked shot.
Cue the fight song!