Oregon State women's basketball ends Stanford's reign as Pac-12 Champions
Step aside, Stanford. There's a new sheriff in town.
With Saturday's 73-55 win over No. 24 Cal, the seventh-ranked Oregon State women's basketball team clinched the Pac-12 regular season title outright, ending a 14-year reign by Stanford as a champion or co-champ. It also marked the first Pac-12 regular season championship in OSU women's hoops history.
When he took over in the summer of 2010, coach Scott Rueck set lofty goals for his program. Nearly five years later, and Rueck needed a pinch to bring him back to reality as the confetti streamed down from the rafters at Gill Coliseum on Saturday.
"I'm just shaking my head, like, 'Is this real?'" Rueck said.
You bet, coach.
In the season before Rueck took over in Corvallis, the Beavers went 11-20 and were in dire need of a change. So Rueck and his staff hit the recruiting trail, spotting talent that no other schools did. The Beavers might not have any McDonald's High School All-Americans on their team, but you can't say they don't have stars.
Saturday's contest was a perfect example. The Beavers caught fire from behind the arc, hitting 15-of-26 shots from 3-point land, including seven from sharpshooter Sydney Wiese. Meanwhile, Ruth Hamblin was a dominant force for OSU down low, scoring nine points while grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking eight shots, as the Beavers held Cal to 33.8 percent shooting.
This was all part of the vision that Rueck had when he took over the program.
"You don't always get what you deserve," Rueck said. "When you do, you've got to be so grateful. And that's what I am -- just grateful. Grateful to be a small part of this."
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With their combination of perimeter talent, stout defense and Hamblin's imposing presence on the block, the Beavers will be a force to reckoned with at next week's Pac-12 Tournament and eventually the NCAA tourney. Topping Stanford on Thursday would have been a perfect way to win the conference crown, but Rueck didn't mind waiting two more days to see his team celebrate in front of its home fans.
"It was so neat just to have that celebration," Rueck said. "That was a movie scene out there."