Women's Basketball Advances By Running Past Nebraska, 75-67, In WNIT Second Round

March 22, 2004

LINCOLN, Neb. - Five players reached double figures in scoring as Oregon State's women's basketball team knocked off University of Nebraska, 75-67, in Monday's second round action of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

Sophomore guard Mandy Close finished with 17 points and a career-high six assists, while junior guard Shannon Howell, a transfer from Nebraska, added 17 points to help the Beavers (17-14) advance to the WNIT third round for the first time since 1982 when OSU won the tournament championship.

Oregon State advances to quarterfinal action and will face Creighton University in Omaha, NE on Wednesday at 5 p.m. PST. The Bluejays were 74-69 winners at University of Washington on Saturday.

The balanced Beaver attack saw four players score seven or more points in the opening 20 minutes with Howell's 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting leading the way.

OSU shot a scorching 52-percent (16-for-31) from the field while holding the Huskers to just a 39-percent (12-for-31) clip.

'We shot the ball really well in the first half,' said OSU head coach Judy Spoelstra. 'We knew we needed to come out strong and take Nebraska out of the game early.'

Leilani Estavan buried back-to-back 3-point field goals to open the game, setting the tone for the Beavers. Howell's trey with 3:46 remaining on the clock sparked a 7-0 Oregon State run and another 3-pointer from the Nebraska transfer gave OSU a 39-29 lead at the half.

Nebraska (18-12) fought its way back in the second half when Kiera Hardy's back-to-back 3-point field goals capped off a 13-2 run and gave the Huskers a 55-52 lead with 6:56 remaining.

Six straight points from Beaver posts Brina Chaney and Hollye Chapman, followed by six consecutive points from Close catapulted OSU back in front as the Huskers managed just one field goal in a four-minute stretch. Oregon State's 12-2 run during the span helped the Beavers regain a 64-57 advantage with just under two minutes to play.

'Mandy (Close) released so well on the fast break that she got her confidence when she hit some shots early and her penetration in the second half was just phenomenal,' said Spoelstra.

The Beavers closed out the final minute of action by making 10-of-10 free throw attempts.

Chapman recorded her 10th career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes, while Chaney added 13 points including 7-of-9 free throws and pulled down five rebounds. Estavan finished with 10 points to go along with a game-high eight assists and season-best five steals.

'I thought our starters did a great job,' said Spoelstra. 'They were gassed but they just kept going.'

Hardy finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting and Alexa Johnson added 16 points for the Huskers.

The Beavers improved to 15-2 on the season when shooting better than their opponent - OSU finished the game with a 44-percent clip from the field compared to Nebraska's 39-percent mark.

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