2014 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament semifinals: Oregon State tops Washington State, headed to final
SEATTLE – Few women’s basketball teams around the country are playing as well as Oregon State.
The No. 3 seed Beavers defeated the No. 7 seed Cougars, 70-60, in the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament semifinals Saturday night at KeyArena, to extend their season-best winning streak to 11 games and advance to Sunday’s championship against USC.
Too big. Too strong. Too efficient defensively.
“Heck of a game tonight,” said Beavers coach Scott Rueck after Oregon State clinched their first Pac-12 Championship appearance in school history. “Washington State is such an explosive offensive scoring team. I thought we did a great job defending them.”
Oregon State (23-9, 13-5 Pac-12) never trailed and the Cougars (17-16, 9-9 Pac-12), who entered the week third in the conference in scoring (72.7 points per game), rarely had open looks. WSU shot 40.3 percent from the field during the regular season, their best mark since the 2000-01. The Cougars finished Saturday night 32.5 percent from the field, but set a record for points scored in the tournament with 258.
“There is a reason they missed shots. There is a reason our field goal defense is 1/1000th of a point behind Stanford’s for second in our conference,” Rueck said. “There is a reason these guys sell out every day.”
The opening minutes were rough for one member of WSU’s record-setting backcourt tandem.
[Related video: OSU's Scott Rueck on semifinal win]
Cougars guard Lia Galdeira drove through the lane and was rejected by 6-foot-6 Beavers center Ruth Hamblin. Galdeira landed hard on the floor, where she stayed, clutching her wrist, as both teams played out the next possession on the other end of the court. Going five on four, Beavers guard Ali Gibson knocked through one of her career-best five three-pointers, as Oregon State controlled the tempo early.
Galdeira, meanwhile, was forced to the locker room for evaluation.
While she was away, the Beavers jumped to a 9-2 lead when OSU forward Deven Hunter made a mid-range jumper with 15:26 left in the first half
When Galdeira re-entered the game at the 11:42 mark, the sophomore had her left wrist and two fingers heavily taped. She didn’t make another field goal in the first half and was soon replaced by WSU guard Taylor Edmondson. Galdeira, though, had a strong final 20 minutes and finished with 16 points. With the output, she set the tournament record with 75 points in three games.
[Related video: Oregon State's Ruth Hamblin talks Pac-12 title game matchup]
Led by Sydney Wiese and Gibson (who combined for 36 points and nine three-pointers), Oregon State built a 33-20 lead by halftime. In the first half, they outshot the Cougars, 46.7 percent to 26.7 percent, blocked five shots to WSU’s one and made five three-pointers. The Cougars, who set a tournament single-game record for scoring in Thursday’s 107-100 win over Oregon, made just two.
Hamblin clogged the lane all night, finishing with a single-game tournament–record seven blocks. The performance also tied her for the most blocks in a tournament, with 12.
After trailing 55-33 with 8:25 left, the Cougars used an 11-2 run to pull within 13, and they pulled as close as nine in the final minute, but the Beavers, who made 24-of-54 shots and 10 threes, were simply too much.
“I feel like we're always trying to prove something,” Gibson said. “We're trying to prove that we're better each game, and I think you can tell that through each game that we play.”