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Oregon State Takes On Connecticut In Final Four

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Can Beavers Contend With UConn?

Jamie Weisner and Oregon State will try to shoot their way past UConn today.
Jamie Weisner and Oregon State will try to shoot their way past UConn today.

2 seed #6 Oregon State (32-4, 16-2 in the Pac-12) vs. 1 seed #1 Connecticut (36-0, 18-0 in the American) / Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN / 6 PM EDT (3 PM PDT) / ESPN / KEJO 1240 AM

Oregon State takes on mighty UConn today, in the first of two NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament semi-finals, the first game of the "Final Four".

It's the first time the 6th ranked Beavers, who are in the tournament for the 3rd year in a row, and were the 2 seed in the Dallas Regional, have ever been to the "Final Four". Indeed, their 60-57 win Monday evening over Baylor was the first time they even made it to the "Elite 8". Oregon State has won 22 of their last 23 games.

Oregon State Coach Scott Rueck does have a National Championship on his resume, having led George Fox to a Division III Title before rebuilding the OSU program.

Season long top ranked and NCAA Tournament overall #1 seed Connecticut, on the other hand, have been to the tournament 28 years in a row, 9 straight Final Fours, and have won the last 3 National Championships, as well as 10 overall, dating back to their first in 1995. The Huskies have won 73 games in a row, and 119 of 120 games, and all by double digit margins.

UConn is looking to equal UCLA's record 11 basketball titles, and Coach Geno Auriemma, who has led the Huskies for 30 years, is looking to pass John Wooden for most hoops championships ever.

Oregon State's first 3 Tournament wins were all by double digit margins, 73-31 over Troy69-40 over St. Bonaventure, and 83-71 over DePaul.

Connecticut advanced to the Final 4 with an 86-65 win in the Bridgeport Regional over Texas. Their other tournament wins were by 52 (101-49 over Robert Morris), 46 (97-51 over Duquesne), and 60 (98-38 over Mississippi State).

The teams had 2 common opponents this season. Both beat DePaul (UConn 86-70), and the Huskies won 91-81 at Notre Dame, while the Beavers lost 62-61 in South Bend.

Connecticut is led by 6'4" Breanna Stewart the two-time national Player of the Year, who will be the first pick in the upcoming WNBA draft. Stewart averaged 19.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3.5 blocks, and 1.9 steals per game.

Oregon State will try to slow down Stewart with 6'6" Ruth Hamblin, the 2 time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and the all time Beaver and Pac-12 leader in blocked shots, as well as an All-American Honorable Mention.

The "Canadian Hammer" had 124 blocked shots this season, and 419 in her career, and averages a double double, 11.8 points and 10 rebounds, per game.

Stewart gets support from Fellow All-American Moriah Jefferson, who averages 12.6 points, 5.5 assists 2.7 steals per game, and Morgan Tuck adds 13.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.

The Beavers of course have the "Swish Sisters", Jamie Weisner, the Pac-12 Player of the Year and an All-American Honorable Mention as well, and Sydney Wiese, also an All-Pac-12 player.

Weisner averages 17.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, and had a career high 38 points in the Beavers' win over DePaul.

Wiese averages 12.8 poionts, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game.

One interesting note, in their 26 Final 4 games (in 16 appearances) so far, the 6 losses Connecticut has suffered have all come in the semifinals.

UConn and Oregon State are 2 of just 3 teams in the country with 3 different players all with over 1,000 career points. The Huskies lead the nation in both scoring offense and defense, and the Beavers are 4th in the nation in rebounds, and 6th in scoring defense.

The winner will meet the winner of today's second game, between another Pac-12 team, Washington (26-10), and Syracuse (29-7), on Tuesday night for the National Championship.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com