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Oregon State holds off Washington and moves on to the Pac-12 Championship game

It was a wild semifinal Saturday in the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament, and Oregon State contributed to the excitement by holding off a red hot Washington Huskies team 57 to 55 to move on to the Championship.

Pac-12 player of the year Jamie Weisner celebrates the Oregon State win over Washington to advance to the Pac-12 Championship game
Pac-12 player of the year Jamie Weisner celebrates the Oregon State win over Washington to advance to the Pac-12 Championship game
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The late Saturday night semifinal matchup was the second meeting between the two teams, with Oregon State eking out a 61 to 53 regular season win in Seattle.  The February 5th game saw the two teams' superstars square off against each other in which OSU's Jamie Weisner scored 21 points to UW's Kelsey Plum's 30 points.  Even with the high individual scoring by the two stars it was a game that saw both defenses being the main story line, with Oregon State holding the Huskies to 30.2% shooting and Washington keeping the Beavers to only 37.9%.

Coming into this Pac-12 Tournament semifinal game the number five seed Washington was coming in off a huge upset quarterfinal 73 to 65 win over the number four seed and #11 Stanford Cardinal.   On the other side number one seed and #8 Oregon State was coming in off a solid, but hold on in the end win over USC, 63 to 53.

The game saw Jamie Weisner finding her stroke early with a long 3-point basket.   Washington quickly scored in response to cut the lead to one point.  The early first quarter saw both teams trading blows, but a big 3-point basket by Gabby Hanson at the 7:45 mark doubled up the Beavers lead to 10 to 5.  Behind the conference leading scorer Kelsey Plum, Washington though was able to cut into the Oregon State lead.

Ruth Hamblin was sharp early on in the game, blocking shots, rebounding, and making mid-range shots.  Washington continued to have the answer with Plum, who gave the Huskies their first lead 16 to 14 at the 4:51 mark.  The first quarter was an exciting offensive pinball affair as both teams exchanged baskets and leads.  All of which translated at the end of the quarter into a 21 to 21 tie.

We're trading baskets.  We're not used to that.  But I loved the way that we responded.  I thought we jumped out, hit our first however many shots we hit, and next thing you knew, we're down and they hit tough shot after tough shot.  Attacked us, beat us off the dribble, created good shots and made them.  - Scott Rueck

The second quarter started out quickly again with Sydney Wiese this time nailing a 3-point shot to put the Beavs back up by three points.  The defenses for both teams started to find their games as the offenses struggled to convert field goals.  The Huskies though were able to extend a five point lead before Marie Gülich was able to break the Oregon State scoring drought.

The last part of the first half very much slowed down in terms of offensive production, but the Pac-12 player of the year Jamie Weisner hit back-to-back 3-point shots to cut into the Huskies lead.  At the end of the half Washington took a slim 37 to 35 lead into the locker room.

The hard fought first half saw Oregon State shooting 14 for 33 (42%), which included hitting 7 of their 19 three-point shots.   The Beavers did not get to the free throw line, had 16 rebounds, and turned it over 4 times (a huge improvement over the quarterfinal game against USC).   Oregon State was led by Sydney Wiese with 13 points, followed by Jamie Weisner with 11 points, and Ruth Hamblin had 6 points (all of Hamblin's points though were in the first quarter).

The Huskies hit 12 of their 23 shots (52%), including 7 of 10 three-points shots.  Washington made 6 of their 8 free throws, grabbed 14 rebounds, and had 5 turnovers.   Chantel Osahor was Washington's leading scorer for the half with 13 points, and Kelsey Plum had 10 points.

Sydney Wiese started the third quarter again with a big 3-point basket to give Oregon State a quick second half lead.  Oregon State's defense took the first half a bit personally and came out strong, making it difficult for Washington to find an offensive rhythm early and that continued throughout the entire second half.  Finally Ruth Hamblin got involved again offensively and her post up play gave OSU a five point lead at the 1:21 mark of the quarter, and at the end of the quarter the Beavs held on to a 48 to 44 lead.

Second half turned into what we're a little more used to, and that's a defensive battle and a defensive struggle.- Scott Rueck

The final quarter saw Oregon State continue to attack the zone with more movement and as such the Beavers' lead extended out to 54 to 48 at the 7:38 mark.  The Huskies though continued to hold strong and were able to cut the Oregon State lead back to four points.  A Gabby Hanson 3-pointer put up the Beavs by seven points, which was a important turning point of the quarter as it gave OSU a bit more "breathing" room as Washington started to show fatigue and the Huskies, especially Kelsey Plum, were frustrated over and over again by the Oregon State defense.

The problem for the Beavers was that Oregon State on their offensive side could not put the final dagger into the Huskies as Washington's defense also played out the final quarter with an aggressiveness that kept the Beavs off-balance.  This lack of offensive production in the final minutes of the game by Oregon State was enough to keep the game in question down to the final buzzer.  In the end the Beavers' defense was spectacular, frustrating Kesley Plum who only scored one basket in the second half, but the Huskies did not go away quietly as a Chantel Osahor hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to only two points with 37 seconds left in the game.  It then came down to the last 5.5 seconds of the game in which Kelsey Plum had her open look but the shot was too hard off the glass, and Oregon State escapes not scoring in the last six minutes to play in the Pac--12 Championship.

It was a struggle, you have to give them credit. - Scott Rueck

Oregon State ended up shooting 23 for 58 (40%), made 10 of their 29 three-pointers, converted 1 of only 2 free throw attempts, pulled down 36 rebounds, and turned it over 11 times.  Washington made 18 of their 55 shots (33%), and the Huskies made 8 of their 19 three-points shots, converted 11 of 14 free throws, had 33 rebounds, and turned it over 8 times.

The leading scorers for the game were Jamie Weisner with 20 points, Sydney Wiese with 16 points, and Ruth Hamblin with 10 points for Oregon State.  Hamblin also had 12 rebounds, her second double-double of the Tournament and 9th of the season.  Washington was led by Chantel Osahor with 18 points, Talia Walton had 15 points, and Kelsey Plum ended up with only 14 points.

I think we were a lot more focused going into practice this week.  We knew that we're not satisfied and we still aren't satisfied.  So definitely thankful that we're still alive in the tournament, but we have to get back to work tomorrow because UCLA's a great team. - Sydney Wiese

Oregon State will play number three seed UCLA in the Championship game tomorrow, Sunday at 6:00pm.   The Bruins are coming off a hard fought 73 to 67 OT win over the resurgent Cal Bears team.  The Championship will also be the deciding game as the two teams split their regular season match ups.   The Bruins dominated Oregon State 71-51 back in January in LA, and then the Beavers got pay back in Corvallis in February defeating UCLA 64-54.  It has all the looks of a classic bruising battle between two top-notch teams, and should see a continuation of a wild and well played semifinal Pac-12 Tournament Saturday.

It would be incredible.  Think a lot of us remember that Game 2 years ago, and then obviously last year.  And so especially for the seniors to finish our career off with that checked off would be huge. - Jamie Weisner

Go Beavs!