Coming into Friday’s game in Corvallis, 15-seeds were 0-89 against 2-seeds in the women’s NCAA tournament. The 15th-seeded Long Beach State team was not intimidated though and gave the Beavers everything they could ask for in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Long Beach State found themselves down just one point (55-56) at the end of the game with the ball, for a chance to pull off the biggest upset in tournament history. Fortunately for Beaver fans, their defense held strong as it has all season-long and they advanced to the next round of the NCAA tournament.
Long Beach State was 10-for-18 from three-point range and forced 13 turnovers (10 in the first half). The Beavers held a significant height advantage and outrebounded Long Beach State 44-29, but the scrappy underdogs used their athleticism and pressure to force the Beavers into uncomfortable positions. Also, Oregon State’s leading scorer, Sydney Wiese, struggled all night long; finishing with just 7 points (1-for-8).
Here’s how the Beavers almost became victims of the biggest upset in tournament history:
The Beavers struggled mightily against LBSU’s aggressive style. They looked out of sync and turned it over far too often. When Oregon State didn’t turn it over they did manage to shoot a solid percentage though and thanks to a last second lay-up they took the lead 17-15 after the first period.
Oregon State continued to look out of rhythm. LBSU took a 27-23 lead and Sydney Wiese picked up her second foul forcing her to the bench for the last five minutes of the half. Marie Gulich helped keep it close utilizing her size for 10 first half points though. LBSU hit an impressive three at the buzzer to take a 30-29 lead into the halftime break.
Oregon State took much better care of the ball in the second half. They also dominated the rebounding battle against the under-sized LBSU team, but to no avail. Sydney Wiese hit a three-pointer late in the third period to give the Beavers a six-point lead (40-34). Also, freshman Mikayla Pivec had a very solid NCAA tournament debut, but LBSU would not go away. Oregon State held a 44-39 lead headed into the fourth.
The last period was an all-out battle. Game trends continued as Long Beach State’s pressure rattled Oregon State. The Beavers continued to miss open shots and failed to capitalize on a number of key offensive rebounds. LBSU grabbed a 55-54 lead after a clutch three-pointer, but Sydney Wiese corralled a key rebound and was fouled. Wiese calmly nailed both attempts to regain the lead and Long Beach State wasn’t able to hit a game winning shot.
The Beavers will regroup and take on the winner of the Creighton/Toledo game on Sunday. While this game was almost a catastrophe, Oregon State has to be happy with the victory despite shooting 2-for-16 from behind the arc. It’s unlikely the Beavers will play another game in the tournament with such lop-sided shooting percentages from three-pointers (55.6% vs. 12.5%), but Oregon State will need to cut down on their turnovers. Teams will try and replicate Long Beach State’s aggressive full-court pressure and if the Beavers don’t adjust they won’t be dancing for long.