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Oregon St. Opens Pac-12 Tourney Against Colorado

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Jamie Weisner, Ruth Hamblin, and Deven Hunter all need to have a good night for Oregon St. to fend off upset-minded Colorado tonight.
Jamie Weisner, Ruth Hamblin, and Deven Hunter all need to have a good night for Oregon St. to fend off upset-minded Colorado tonight.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Oregon St.'s 8th ranked women's basketball team takes on Colorado tonight at 6 PM in the Beavers' first game in the Pac-12 Tournament in Key Arena in Seattle.

The Buffs, who were the 9th seed, advanced to meet the top seeded Beavers with the only upset win in the first day of the Tournament (though all of the winners had to come from behind), with a 75-63 win over 8th ranked USC, the defending conference tournament champions.

Colorado (14-16, 6-12) and Oregon St. (26-3, 16-2) met only once in the regular season, at the Coors Event Center in Boulder on Friday, Feb. 20. The game was tied at 26 apiece at halftime, only to have the Beavers pull away in the second half for a 66-44 win.

The Buffs have struggled to a less than expected level of success this season, but have won 3 of 4 since their loss to the Beavers, and represent a potential threat that is stiffer than just the final score of the first meeting might indicate.

The first time around, Colorado's front court combo of Jen Reese and Jamee Swan significantly out-played Oregon St.'s Ruth Hamblin, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and the media's Player of the Year, and Deven Hunter.

Reese posted a game high 19 points, and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Swan, who had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocked shots last night in the Buffs win over the Trojans, added 13 points and also got 5 boards against the Beavers, and had 3 blocked shots that night.

Meanwhile, Hamblin, who was in the midst of a late season offensive slump, got in foul trouble against the active Buff front court, and finished with only 2 points and 5 rebounds, a line most wouldn't associate with a 22 point Oregon St. win.

Hunter had 9 points, but only 2 boards.

The difference in the game was the guard play.

Oregon St. got a combined 41 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists from the trio of Jamie Weisner, Sydney Wiese, and Ali Gibson, and Gabriella Hanson threw in 6 more, on a pair of 3s (the quartet combined for 8 made 3 pointers whereas Colorado connected for only 2), and grabbed 3 more boards, plus dishing out a pair of assists.

Weisner was particularly important, with a double double of a team high 17 points and a game high 10 rebounds.

So the keys to watch will be whether Hamblin and Hunter can slow down Swan and Reese, and hopefully get their own games going against a duo that presents a difficult matchup for them, and whether the long ball is going in for the Beaver guards. When Weisner, Wiese, Gibson and Hanson are all "on", there's no one in the conference, and few anywhere that can compete with Oregon St. But guard play, and 3-balls, even from this group of sharp-shooters, can be a precarious way to play.

The winner will get the winner of the following game between 5th seed Washington (23-8, 11-7), one of only 2 conference opponents to beat Oregon St. this season, and 4th seed California (21-8, 13-5), which will follow at 8:30 PM, Saturday night, also at 8:30 PM.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com