It was the Oregon State (16-2/26-3) Women’s basketball team’s first game after winning the outright regular Pac-12 season conference title. For the #9 seed Colorado Buffaloes (6-12/14-16) it was their second Pac-12 Tournament game coming off a solid 75 to 63 victory over the 8th seed USC Trojans Thursday evening.
Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Scott Rueck started his all season go-to lineup with senior Ali Gibson, Jamie Weisner, Sydney Wiese, Deven Hunter, and Defensive Player of the Year Ruth Hamblin.
Weisner and OSU struck first on a nice drive play, but Colorado quickly answered with a Jamee Swan three point play. The game continued its back-and-forth with Hamblin scoring in the paint to be followed by a Lexy Kresl 3-point basket, Kresl added another basket to put the Buffs up 8 to 4 at the 18:19 mark.
A 3-point make by Sydney Wiese cut the Colorado lead to one point, but the Buffs continued their hot shooting from the outside and are able to bring the lead up to 14 to 7. Jamie Weisner came out of the timeout with another 3-point shot to cut into the Colorado lead.
The pace of the game continued to be uptempo, which early on favored Colorado. But aggressive rebounding by Jamie Weisner and solid OSU defense helped keep the Beavs close enough for Oregon State to chip away at the lead as the game later settled down into a more half court game. This led to a pair of Jen'Von'Ta Hill free throws that brought the Colorado lead down to 18 to 14 at the 11:45 mark.
A big 3-point shot by Lexy Kresl gave the Buffaloes a bit more space at 23 to 14, and continued to show they came to play the possible upset role for the Tournament. Indeed a Lauren Huggins 3-point shot put the Buffs up by 10 points at the 6:13 mark. Oregon State though was able to cut into the Colorado lead but playing aggressive defense and getting second, and third, attempts, and two Gabriella Hanson free throws brought the lead to five points. This was followed by more solid OSU defense, which led to a three point play by Ruth Hamblin and the Beavs found themselves only two points down at the 3:01 mark.
More aggressive and solid rotation defense helped the Beavs to tie up the game at 30 to 30 with a high-low play to Hamblin that capped off a 10 to 0 OSU scoring run. Ali Gibson then drained a 3-point shot to get OSU their first lead of the game since the 19 minute mark of the first half, 33 to 30, and up their scoring run to 13 to 0. This was followed by a phenomenal series of defensive plays by Hanson and Gibson that allowed the Beavers to hang onto their 3 point lead into the halftime.
Oregon State went into the halftime locker room shooting 11 for 35 (31%) from the field, made 4 of 18 of their 3-point shots, hit 7 of 9 free throws, had 24 rebounds, and turned it over only 3 times. Oregon State was led by Ruth Hamblin with 9 points, closely followed by Sydney Wiese with 7 points. On the other side Colorado shot 12 for 32 (38%) from the field, made 5 of 7 of their 3-point shots, hit 1 of their 3 free throws, had 19 rebounds, and 4 turnovers. The Buffs were led by Lexy Kresl with 14 points and Jamee Swan with 7 points.
The second half continued with strong Oregon State defense and a Jamie Weisner basket to get the OSU lead to five points, but Colorado was able to answer, which then was quickly followed by a Buffs' turnover that led to a Ali Gibson fast break layup.
Colorado though was not ready to rollover and a Jen Reese basket cut the Beavers' lead to one point, and Reese was able to a bit later recapture the Buffs' lead at 38 to 37. The teams then exchanged baskets, free throws, and leads until Colorado was able to go on a mini-run to up their lead to four points.
Oregon State finally broke out of their scoring slump with a Deven Hunter 3-point basket, which was followed by a Lexy Kresl 3-point make and then a Jen Reese three point play hat put Colorado up by 7 points.
The Beavs were taken to the ropes and needed to hit key free throws to stay within striking distance in the key moments late in the half. Deven Hunter converted a huge three point play to cut the Colorado lead to two points, 59 to 57 at the 5:29 mark.
A Ruth Hamblin power three point play gave the Beavers back the lead 60 to 59 at the 4:21 mark. This was followed by another solid OSU defensive stand that led to a 3 second call on Colorado. The game continued to go back-and-forth until a couple of key OSU misses and a broken assignment defensive play allowed Colorado to go up by three points at the 1:43 mark.
Another broken play on the Oregon State defense put the Beavs down five points, which led to the Beavs having to force up a 3-point shot that came up short. Oregon State then had to foul their way to a quarterfinal loss to the Colorado Buffaloes, 68 to 65.
The Beavers finished the game shooting 22 for 65 (34%) from the field, hit only 6 of 31 of their 3-point shots, just 19%, which had a lot to do with losing it. They made 15 of their 19 free throw attempts, had 38 rebounds, and turned it over 6 times. The leading scorers for OSU were Ruth Hamblin with 14 points, Jamie Weisne and Sydney Wiese both had 11 points, and Ali Gibson and Deven Hunter had 10 points. Colorado ended up shooting 27 for 62 (44%) from the field, made 6 of 9 of their 3-point shots, converted 8 of 13 free throws, grabbed 41 rebounds, and had 10 turnovers; and were led by Lexy Kresl with 19 points and Jamee Swan with 18 points.
It was a classic Tournament type of game with the 9th seed team throwing all they had at the 1 seed. Colorado could not miss early on, but Oregon State played like a champion and held strong and was able to use its depth and leadership to establish control of the game in the last part of the 1st half. In the second half it was a battle of ties and lead changes; and in this match up Colorado did not let the game get away in the second half and pulled out a hard fought upset win to advance to the next round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Even with the disappointing early exit loss, the Beavs will move on to play in the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season (and will wait to see about their overall placement within the brackets). Colorado will move on to play Saturday night (8:30pm scheduled tip off) against the winner of tonight’s Pac-12 Tournament game between the #4 seed California Bears and the #5 seed Washington Huskies.