Women: Washington State 65, Oregon State 56
In keeping with the 2011-12 season being one full of firsts with the inception of the Pac-12 Conference, the No. 11-seed Washington State (12-19, 5-13 Pac-12) women's basketball team has recorded a milestone of their own by recording their first tournament win with a 65-56 victory over No. 6-seed Oregon State (18-13, 9-9 Pac-12) in the final game at the Galen Center today.
"We've really challenged ourselves, came out of the preseason with the seventh toughest schedule in the country and a 30 RPI, went right into the Pac-12 (season) by sweeping the Oregon schools and then unfortunately the injury bug kept coming," said Washington State coach June Daugherty. "These kids kept believing, playing hard and our seniors were phenomenal leaders. It's so exciting to be rewarded with a victory like this."
Washington State quickly amassed a 15-point lead thanks to some hot shooting by sophomore Brandi Thomas' nine points in the first eight minutes of the game. Oregon State struggled by only scoring a single bucket in that same period of time. The Beavers would keep fighting through the first half and cut the Cougar lead to five heading into the half.
"I'm proud of our team for not only the way they played tonight, battling back tonight, but for how they have played all season," said Oregon State coach Scott Rueck. "Credit Washington State for coming out like they did, they were ready to go and put pressure on us from the beginning. I'm proud of my team."
The first half may have belonged to Washington State, but Oregon State refused to back off and enjoyed its own 10-2 run in the middle of the second half. The Beavers pulled to within one point at 44-45 with 8:52 left to play. Yet with some confidence and limiting Oregon State's second shot opportunities, Washington State kept its focus and pulled away to win 56-65.
"Basketball is a game of runs, so we knew that they would have one," said Washington State's Carly Noyes. "We knew we had to stay poised and I thought we did a good job of doing that."
Washington State was the third underdog team to win today as No. 12-Arizona defeated No. 5-seed UCLA 61-57 and No. 11-seed Colorado defeated No. 7-seed Utah 55-41.
"It's going to be the greatest tournament ever because anything can happen," said Daugherty. "If you look at the wins and losses (during the conference schedule) and scores, we were all excited about it three weeks ago. Nothing would surprise me at this point. This tournament is what makes the post season so exciting. It gives any team a chance to make a run."
With tonight's win, Washington State will face No. 3-seed USC at 7:15 pm here at the Galen Center.