It was a huge late season match up between the #8 Oregon State Beavers (11-1, 21-2) and the #12 Arizona State Sun Devils (10-2, 21-3). With the regular season winding down Oregon State was holding a slim one game lead over the Arizona State and California for the first place spot in the Pac-12 conference. Arizona State was coming off a tough stand against the Bay Area teams, in which the Sun Devils took a down-to-wire win from Stanford but then turned around to give up a last minute loss to the Cal Golden Bears. Additionally it was an important game for both teams in their quest to be named possible first two rounds host for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships.
The DAM Cancer Pink uniformed Oregon State started their veteran line up of Ali Gibson, Sydney Wiese, Jamie Weisner, Devon Hunter, and Ruth Hamblin against different Arizona State line up without Kelsey Moos who was out with a torn elbow ligament.
Arizona State drew first blood with a Elisha Davis basket, this then was answered by Oregon State with one of their bread and butter scoring opportunities--a Ruth Hamblin hook shoot. The teams then traded punches on defense holding the scoring down until the Sun Devils retook the lead. Ali Gibson was able to finally put the Beavers up with a three-point shot at the 16:20 mark of the first half.
Both teams' offense then picked up the pace trading baskets to see Oregon State reclaim the lead with a pair of Devon Hunter free throws. This was followed with some sharp and patient passing that opened up Sydney Wiese to take over the all time OSU three-point scorer leader with her career 179th 3-point basket.
A healthy Gabriella Hanson came in to give the Beavs a nice lift with her passing and rebounding, along with Marie Gülich also coming off the bench to give Hamblin a rest, all of which helped Oregon State go up 16 to 10 at the 11:24 mark.
Wiese showed she can score inside the paint too on a nice move to put the Beavs up 18 to 10, but Arizona State was able to put a stop on the OSU run with a Quinn Dornstauder in-the-paint power play that gets Ruth Hamblin quickly back into the game.
Some tough Sun Devils defense, a couple of quick Samantha Siegner fouls, and solid shooting all helped ASU pull back to only being down two points after a Dornstauder jump shot at the 7:38 mark. Oregon State's Ali Gibson aggressively drove to the basket to get the Beavers back up by four, but Arizona State, behind Oregon State turnovers, continued to keep the game close. Behind a Jen'Von'Ta Hill free throw the Beavs were able to go up by three points with five minutes left. OSU was then able to capitalize on some solid defense and rebounding to extend their lead to 29 to 23 into the last two minutes of the half
Even with a strong Sun Devils run, Oregon State in the last two minutes was able to hold onto the lead and go into the half up 29 to 27.
The first half stats saw the Beavers shooting 9 for 21 (43%) from the field, making 3 of 9 of their 3-point shots, hitting 8 of 10 free throws, grabbing 16 rebounds, but also making 7 turnovers. Oregon State was led by Ali Gibson with 10 points followed by Sydney Wiese with 7 points, but surprisingly Jamie Weisner did not score in the first half. On the other side of the ball Arizona State shot 12 for 26 (46%) from the field, made only 1 of 3 of their 3-point shots, hit 2 of 2 free throws, had 11 rebounds, and only turned it over 3 times. The Sun Devils were led by Elisha Davis and Quinn Dornstauder both of whom had 8 points.
Coming out of the half locker room the Beavs start the second half as they started the first, going to Ruth Hamblin down low, which followed through on Scott Rueck's promise going into the halftime locker room of needing more Hamblin. Behind their power inside game the Beavs went up 33 to 29 on the second inside the paint Hamblin score.
But the Sun Devils weather the Hamblin storm to chip away at the early OSU lead, and the game again settled down into a more defensive back-and-forth. Ali Gibson though is able to put OSU back up by five at the 17:26 mark.
Sophie Brunner, above, in response brought that lead back to two points on a 2 + 1 three point play, and at the 16:22 mark of the second half Jamie Weisner finally scored her first basket to put the Beavs up 37 to 33.
The second half especially was a match between two very good teams going blow-to-blow, with OSU at times pulling away only to see the Sun Devils making short burst runs to close the gap. Though Oregon State behind some aggressive defense and a "vocal" made jumper by Sydney Wiese was able to slowly extend their lead out to seven points, 42 to 35.
Then a Hamblin three point play really helped the Beavs continue their 8 to 0 run, and this allowed Oregon State to finally take a bit more control of the game and extend into the first (and only) double digit lead at the 13:19 mark.
Arizona State was true to form in not allowing this to get out of control, and the Sun Devils were able to take advantage of Hamblin going out of the game for a rest and attacked the paint. Oregon State's answer came in a nice under the basket reverse spin move by Marie Gülich, above, and then a Wiese 3-point shot. The Sun Devils then benefited from a Coach Rueck technical foul to close the gap to six points at the 9:10 mark, to be quickly followed by two more ASU free throws to cut the Oregon State lead to 50 to 46.
Senior Ali Gibson then took control driving the paint for a layup, but again Arizona State answered with a Brunner three point play to chip away at the OSU lead. This led to Rueck to get Hamblin back into the game, and along with Jamie Weisner helped get the Oregon State lead back up to five points at the 8:00 mark. In another key play, coming out of a timeout Rueck calls for a clear out screen play for Devon Hunter putting the Beavs up 56 to 49.
A Sydney Wiese layup at the 4:27 mark put Oregon State up 60 to 51, and indeed was an important basket to keep the lead just comfortable enough, which was essential for the Sun Devils would not go away. Indeed with a pair of Sophie Brunner free throws cut the lead back down to a single possession game, 60 to 57 at the 2:48 mark.
The last thee minutes saw the Beavs earn their win on the foul line, without Devon Hunter who fouled out, with some aggressive defense, with a huge shot clock winding down Samantha Siegner basket, below, and also with the support of the 5,000+ home crowd.
Oregon State finished the game shooting 24 for 47 (51%) from the field, hit 4 of 16 of their 3-point shots, made 18 of their 21 free throw attempts, had 31 rebounds, and turned it over 11 times. The Beavs’ leading scorers were Ruth Hamblin with 17 points, Sydney Wiese with 15 points, and Ali Gibson with 14 points.
Arizona State ended up shooting 23 for 55 (43%) from the field, made 2 of 8 of their 3-point shots, made 16 of 21 free throws, grabbed 28 rebounds, and had 7 turnovers. The Sun Devils were led by Sophie Brunner with 24 points and Katie Hempen with 13 points.
It was a hard fought game between two excellent conference opponents. To Arizona State's credit the Sun Devils would not fold even when the Beavers looked poised to put ASU away. The game was also physical and chippy at times between the teams and between the coaches and the refs. Everything one would expect from a mid-February game for first place in the conference!
"I thought the team played through that adversity, we made big plays when we needed to and got big stops when we needed to," coach Scott Rueck said. "And once again we fed off an incredible home crowd."
The win takes Oregon State to 12-1 in Pac-12 play (and now two games clear of Arizona State and Stanford, and still one game clear over California who defeated UCLA Thursday) and the Beavers are 22-2 overall.
The Beavs next play this Sunday in an early morning 11:00am match up against the Arizona (2-11, 9-15), who for this Oregon road trip were coming off their biggest win in years over Stanford but the Wildcats lost to Oregon this evening. Arizona State drops to 10 and 3 in Pac-12 play and 21 and 4 overall, and travels down the road to take on Oregon (4-9, 11-13) Sunday afternoon.
Cue the Fight Song!