With only three losses to their name on the season, #1 seed Oregon State (29-3) was likely apprehensive about their match-up with #4 seed UCLA in the semi-finals of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, knowing all too well that the Bruins were one of those few teams who clipped the Beavers during the regular season. On Saturday night at KeyArena in Seattle, Oregon State exacted their revenge, holding off UCLA for a 63-53 victory, that pushed the Beavers into the conference championship game for the second straight season. Oregon State will now play #2 seed Stanford on Sunday night (March 5th) at 6:00 PM PT, in a showdown that will be televised on ESPN2.
As per the usual, the Beavers were paced by ol’ reliable Sydney Wiese, who pitched in a team-high 19 points on 7-13 shooting from the field. Oregon State also got solid contributions from freshman Mikayla Pivec (15 points, 8 rebounds) and senior Gabby Hanson (12 points, 3 assists), while junior forward Marie Gulich posted a dominating double-double (10 points, 16 rebounds), as well. UCLA’s Jordin Canada led all scorers in the game with 27 points.
While the victory solidifies some of the Beavers’ staying power as the new force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12, the match-up against Stanford presents a tough challenge for an Oregon State group that will be trying to clip the Cardinal for the third time this season. The two previous regular season match-ups between these teams were decided by a combined 6 points, including one double-overtime contest at Maples Pavilion, where Oregon State won this season for the first time in program history.
A win in the Pac-12 title game over Stanford would place great pressure on the selection committee to consider the Beavers as a potential #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, alongside the likes of UCONN (30-0), Baylor (29-2), Notre Dame (29-3), South Carolina (26-4), Maryland (29-2) and Mississippi State (29-3). Heading into Sunday, ESPN women’s bracketologist Charlie Creme has Oregon State as a #2 seed, in which they would match-up with #15 seed North Dakota (20-9) from the Big Sky Conference. According to Creme’s bracket, if Oregon State was to beat North Dakota, the Beavers would then play the winner of #7 Temple (24-6) and #10 Iowa State (18-12) for a birth in the Sweet Sixteen.