11th ranked Oregon St. rolled past Oregon to a 70-37 win in the first women's basketball Civil War battle of the year, and the weekend. And they did it despite generally having a poor night offensively, as the Beavers struggled, shooting an almost agonizing 37% from the field.
So how do you blow out a decent opponent that is a rival, posting the largest margin of victory Oregon St. ever has over Oregon in women's hoops? Grab 55(!) rebounds, and play defense that bordered on devastating. If the Beavers struggled, the Ducks were completely throttled, held to just 24% shooting, making only 14 of 58 shots. And that doesn't even include the 7 blocked shots, 6 of which were by Ruth Hamblin.
"I'm so proud of the effort tonight, I thought it was a great defensive performance," said Oregon St. head coach Scott Rueck.
Ruth Hamblin swats away an Oregon shot.
Hamblin was atypical of the Oregon St. offensive struggles, missing 10 times at or near point blank range, which meant she shot only 28%, something she won't be happy with. It was why Hamblin missed out on a double double, finishing with only 9 points to go with her co-team high 10 rebounds.
But it was an altogether different story on the other end of the court, where Hamblin was the lynchpin of the devastating defense.
And an example of how looking at the stat sheet can be misleading. At first glance, it appears Oregon post Megan Carpenter came close to matching Hamblin, with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks of her own. But half the points came after Hamblin had already called it a night, and the Ducks were never able to mount any kind of inside scoring threat.
Oregon St.'s offensive struggles prevented the game from being a total blowout before the break, this despite shutting out Oregon for around 10 minutes in the middle part of the first half. Still, the Beavers opened a 33-16 lead at halftime when Devan Hunter hit a 3 from the top of the key.
When the Ducks couldn't get their offense going coming out of the break, and the Beavers did remember that Hamblin was still their main weapon, no doubt after a reminder by Coach Rueck, any chance of Oregon getting back into the game was soon gone, and it was only a question of whether the margin would ever get to the 40 point level the Beaver Dam was calling for.
If Oregon St. had an overall off night offensively, one player who didn't was Jamie Weisner, who had a double double, with a co-game high 11 points, and a co-team high with Hamblin 10 rebounds.
She was actually 1 of 4 Beavers in double digits, as Hunter had 10, including 2 made 3 pointers. And as has often become the norm, when many of the starters struggle, Rueck has been able to count on someone off the bench picking up the slack. Tonight, there were 2 of them.
Gabriella Hanson had 10 points, most of them before the break. Indeed, it was Hanson who shot the Beavers out of what would have been a tight game early on, something she has done before.
And Samantha Siegner played her best game since she was still at West Albany High, matching Weisner with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and the other blocked shot.
Jillian Alleyne provided most of the competition for Oregon St. on the boards, grabbing 16 rebounds, but was held to only 6 points, 11 under her average. Lexi Bando was the only Oregon player in double digits, with 10 points.
For a team looking to make a run at at least an NCAA Regional, the Beavers played final 4 defense, but offense that will be fortunate to get to the round of 32.
Sydney Wiese made a 3 pointer for Oregon St.'s first points of the game, but scored only once more, on a give and go and get it back just as the second half was getting going, finishing with only 5 points. And Ali Gibson had only 4 points, though she did eschew fast break opportunities multiple times in the second half, electing to play clock ball with the big lead instead.
But the good news is defense and rebounding like what was on display tonight will buy some time to get the offense back in sync.
It sounds odd to talk about an offense that rolled up 70 points, extending Oregon St.'s streak of wins by double digit margins to 25 dating back to the middle of last season, as struggling, but then the bar is set at the regional level for this squad, which can be the best the Beavers have ever fielded.
Oregon St. improved to 13-1, and 3-0 in the Pac-12, with what was their 8th win in a row in the Civil War. Oregon dropped to 8-6, and 1-2 in conference. The teams rematch Sunday evening at 5 PM at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.
The 33 point margin of victory eclipsed the old mark of 29 as the largest margin of an Oregon St. victory in the Civil War, and thrilled a crowd of 7,652 mostly Beaver fans, with most Ducks in Dallas for the football National Championship Game. It was the 3rd largest home crowd in Oregon St. history for women's basketball, and the largest in the Rueck era, as well as the largest of the season, exceeding all crowds for men's basketball.
"That crowd was incredible," Rueck said. "Tonight was like a dream come true. We had 7,600 people here, and I told our players they earned every one of them."
Cue the fight song!