All the talk before today's "Sweet 16" showdown between 2 seed & 6th ranked Oregon State and 6 seed DePaul in the Dallas regional was seemingly about the Blue Demons' outside shooting. It's now about the Beavers' "Swish Sisters", and especially Jamie Weisner.
Weisner, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, proceeded to light up DePaul, pouring in a career high 38 points, shooting 70% from the field, including from 3 point range, where she was 7 for 10, in the process, including 5 of 6 in the first half.
"They packed it in defensively," Weisner explained, "so I just shot it over the top of them."
It wasn't as though the Big East regular season champions didn't make a game of it though, and it was the Blue Demons, and Jacqui Grant, who scored DePaul's first 7 points, who got off to the fast start, opening a 9-2 lead.
But Wiese had Oregon State's first 8 points, including back to back 3s that started a 13-0 run that put the Beavers ahead, for good as it would turn out.
Weisner, above, had the last 2 baskets of that run, the beginning of her scoring 11 in a row for the Beavers, and serving notice of things to come.
"They started so fast, and we needed to answer," Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. "And Jamie and Syd just put us on their backs."
DePaul went shot for shot with Oregon State for a while though, and trailed by only 4 at the end of the first quarter, down 21-17, and then 25-21 after Chanise Jenkins' basket.
Weisner buried back to back 3 pointers though to open the first double digit lead of the game, and answered Jessica January's basket with yet another 3 to make it 34-23.
DePaul kept digging though, and though Weisner opened 2 more 11 point leads, the Blue Demons wrapped a pair of 3s of their own by Mart'e Grays and January around a Ruth Hamblin basket to pull back within 7 at the break, trailing 45-38.
The 3s were part of a run where DePaul made 5 3s in a row extending into the third quarter, and Grant's 3 3 minutes after the break made it a 4 point game, pulling the Blue Demons within 48-44.
Oregon State answered with the run that put them in control though, going on a 14-2 run, 6 of which were from Weisner, that pushed the Beavers advantage to 16, up 62-46.
Along the way, Hamblin, above, became the all-time leader in rebounds at Oregon State, and Weisner pulled within 1 point what was her previous career scoring high of 27. Hamblin's career total has now reached 1,004.
But the Beavers hit a bump in the road, as Deven Hunter picked up her 3rd personal, though it did save 2 points, and Grays got a quarter ending 3 pointer to hang in, down 62-49.
Gabriella Hanson got the 4th quarter started with a basket for the Beavers, but Hamblin picked up her 3rd and 4th fouls on back to back trips, and January's 3 pulled the Blue Demons back within a single digit margin.
It was Weisner to the rescue though, with a pair of baskets, but half the Beavers' lead was gone.
Marie Gulich delivered the first bench points of the game for Oregon State, but it was a 10 point game at the mid-4th quarter media time out.
Weisner came out of that breather and promptly buried 2 more 3s, including above, which held DePaul at arm's length, despite a 6-0 run they made.
Gulich again delivered a key basket to stop the DePaul run, and Hunter and Weisner buried 5 consecutive free throws to seal the win.
Weisner finished with a double double, grabbing 10 rebounds from her guard spot. It was the only double double of the game, but the Beavers just missed having 3 of them.
Hamblin finished with 13 points, and 9 rebounds, as well as 3 second half blocked shots, including above, and Hunter had 12 rebounds, and 9 points.
The impact Hunter had on the boards can not be overstated, as Oregon State turned a half time rebounding deficit into a dominant 42-31 edge by the end of the game. Hamblin, the "Canadian Hammer", had a lot to do with that too, but when she got into foul trouble, and Rueck had to bring Hunter back sooner than planned, the "Keizer Killer" (can we create that nickname for Hamblin's career long lane-mate?) took over on the boards.
Wiese, above, wasn't that far from a double double either, finishing with 13 points, and 7 important assists.
January had a great game for DePaul, pouring in 20 points. And it was a well balance Blue Demon attack, as Grant got 15, Grays 14, and Jenkins 10.
Oregon State shot 50% for the game from the field, and 40% from 3 point range, while DePaul shot 41%, both from behind and inside the 3 point line.
"That team (DePaul) is so hard to guard," Rueck said. "There aren't many teams in the country that can hurt you from outside with so many different threats, though its a trend for sure. And they shot nearly 60% in their first 2 tournament games. It was an unbelievable game, and I was happy so many people (over 7,100 fans hung around after Baylor, the local team that won the first game, downing Florida St. 78-58) got to see such a great game. But I was really happy, and so proud, of how our team rose to the occasion."
Rising to the occasion improved Oregon State to 31-4 for the season, and advanced the Beavers to their first ever "Elite 8" appearance, after making only their second ever trip to the "Sweet 16", and first since 1983.
DePaul finished 27-9.
Oregon State's appearance comes only 4 years after the seniors saw a 10 win season, early in the rebuild of the program.
"I'm just so proud of this team, and what we have accomplished," Weisner said. "We started from the botom."
The Beavers will meet Dallas Region top seed and 4th ranked Baylor (36-1) Monday night, with a trip to Indianapolis for the Final 4 up for grabs. Tip will tentatively be just after 8 PM CDT, 6 PM PDT.
The Bears, who won the 2012 National Championship, reached the "Sweet 16" for the 8th year in a row, and have gone to 4 "Final 4s", all under Coach Kim Mulkey.
"Baylor is really big, and really talented," Rueck summarized. "We will have to be at our very best, but we look forward to giving them our best shot."
Go Beavs! Cue The Fight Song!
(RVM also contributed to this report.)