It was a match up between the scrappy reigning conference champions, and 11th ranked Oregon State Beavers (14-3, 5-1) and the surprising Utah Utes (12-5, 4-2). Oregon State was coming off an impressive series against Cal and Stanford, in which the Beavers were able to easily defeat the Golden Bears and then finally broke through against the Cardinal in a come from behind victory last Sunday evening. Utah came in with a five point win over Arizona, but also with a twenty point loss to the red hot conference leading Arizona State team.
For the OSU's starting five Scott Rueck again went with Jamie Weisner, Gabriella Hanson, Katie McWilliams, Deven Hunter, and Ruth Hamblin. Although making news Sydney Wiese was able to play in her first game in eight games, and Wiese entered early on at the 7:46 mark of the first quarter.
The first quarter saw both teams trying to establish the inside game, though Ruth Hamblin missed her first three shots but did respond well blocking two shots on the defensive side. Utah was able to score first with a Emily Potter hook shot, but freshman Katie McWilliams answered with a 3-point basket to give OSU their first lead. Coach Rueck did also go to Marie Gülich fairly quickly with Hamblin's offensive struggles, but Gülich also struggled on the offensive side of the ball. The Utes' Potter scored the first six of Utah's eight points, which helped Utah establish a 8 to 3 lead at the 5:38 mark.
Jamie Weisner then took over for the Beavers and scored five straight points tying the game at 8 to 8, and then hit two free throws to put the Beavs back up by two points. Deven Hunter's solid play helped the Beavs extend their lead, and along with a 17 to 0 scoring run, that included a buzzer beating 3-point basket by Jamie Weisner, the first quarter ended with a strong 20 to 8 OSU lead.
The second quarter saw a familiar sight for Oregon State fans and the lefty #24, Sydney Wiese hit a smooth looking 3-point basket, which extended the Beaver's scoring run to 23 straight points. Utah is finally able to break their scoring drought with a Tanaeya Boclair layup at the 8:26 mark of the second quarter. Gabby Hanson though scored on a couple strong drives to the basket to again lift the Oregon State lead, this time 27 to 12 at the 6:58 mark.
Oregon State continued to play exceptionally strong defense, but the turnover bug hit at the end of the half for Oregon State which allowed the Utes to close the OSU lead 31 to 23 at the buzzer.
Oregon State in the first half shot 11 for 30 (36.7%) from the field, hitting 4 of their 8 three-point attempts, and went 5 for 6 from the free throw line. The Beavers also had 20 rebounds, and turned it over 8 times. Jamie Weisner led Oregon State scorers with 14 points, Gabriella Hanson and Deven Hunter both had 4 points. On the other side Utah made just 8 of their 30 field goals (26.7%), including missing their one 3-point attempt, and made 7 of their 10 free throws. The Utes had 23 rebounds, and turned it over 8 times; and Utah's leading scorers were Emily Potter with 8 points and Tanaeya Boclair with 6 points.
The start of the second half saw Oregon State's strong defensive play offset some cold shooting by the Beavs, and behind a couple of Marie Gülich free throws the Beavs were able to open up a ten point lead, 37 to 27 at the 7:06 mark. Utah's Emily Potter though took on the game almost by herself helping Utah to claw back to within seven points. But it was Sydney Wiese's layup, and later another Wiese 3-point basket that helped spark a 9 point scoring run for the Beavers, who took a 48 to 34 lead into the fourth quarter.
Jamie Weisner capitalized on a quick Utah turnover and put the Beavs up 50 to 34 in the early seconds of the fourth quarter. Oregon State's defense continued to set the tone, and the Beavers were able to creep up the lead to a comfortable 56 to 36 margin at the 6:35 mark behind a Weisner steal and assist to a running Marie Gülich who converted her three point play.
The game wound down with Oregon State struggling with Utah's ramped up defensive play, which saw the Oregon State lead cut to five points at the 1:30 mark. The Beavers went nearly 6 minutes without scoring. A big time offensive rebound and two key free throws by Jamie Weisner helped cut into the Utah momentum. But for all the high energy effort by Utah it also was too little too late for the Utes, for the Beavers just had amassed too large a margin to overcome for Utah; and Sydney Wiese closed out the 62 to 53 win for OSU by grabbing the final defensive rebounds and converting OSU's final free throws.
Oregon State shot 20 for 55 (36.4%) from the field, made 6 of their 18 three-point attempts, converted 16 for 19 free throws, grabbed 40 rebounds, and had 16 turnovers. Jamie Weisner led all scorers with 23 points, followed by Sydney Wiese who had 12 points in her return, and Marie Gülich had 7 points. Ruth Hamblin only had 5 points, but did block a season high 8 shots and had 6 rebounds. Utah shot 19 for 68 (27.9%) from the field, hit just 1 of their 8 three-pointer attempts, made 14 of their 19 free throws, gathered in 48 rebounds, and turned it over 14 times. Emily Potter with 17 points (Potter also had a double-double with 14 rebounds) and Danielle Rodriguez with 10 points were Utah's leading scorers.
The Beavers started out rusty but at times did settle in well, and especially behind strong defensive play Oregon State was able to control enough of the pace to overcome some sloppy play at the end of both halves. The end of the game did demonstrate a classic you cannot let the foot off the gas for Utah was able to up their defensive pressure to create multiple poor decisions on Oregon State's part, and the Utes made the end of the game closer than it really was. But it was great to see Sydney Wiese back on the court for Oregon State, and even though her playing time was a bit limited Wiese did look confident and was a key reason Oregon State held off Utah at the end of the game. All in all it was a very important Pac-12 win for Oregon State as they continue to keep pace with first place Arizona State.
The Beavers continue their road trip with a match up against the last place Colorado Buffaloes (5-13, 0-7), who are coming off a 59 to 46 loss this evening to Oregon. The game will take place in Boulder this Sunday at 2:00PM PT.