Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

No. 7 Oregon State rebounds from loss, overcomes upset-minded Cal to earn share of Pac-12 title

Published on February 28, 2016

By

BERKELEY, Calif. – After losing to No. 13 Stanford Friday night, No. 7 Oregon State (25-4, 16-2 Pac-12) rebounded within 48 hours to take down California (13-16, 4-14 Pac-12) in a hard-fought contest at Haas Pavilion. The 54-44 win gave the Beavers a share of the Pac-12 regular season championship, following up on taking the title last season.

OSU’s chances of earning the championship hinged on the outcome of the No. 9 Arizona State at No. 14 UCLA game that took place at the same time as the contest in Berkeley. Going into the game vs. Cal, the Beavers were one game behind ASU in the Pac-12 standings. The Sun Devils lost in Los Angeles, 74-61, and their inability to earn the league title outright paved the way for the Beavers to share the championship.

With the win, OSU earned the top seed for the upcoming Pac-12 tournament due to a victory over ASU on Feb. 1, the only times the two teams met this season.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck. “To say we’re back-to-back Pac-12 champions, you dream of stuff like that. This is the No. 1 conference in the country and to come out on top is a great accomplishment. I couldn’t be happier for this team, and for the support we have received from Beaver Nation.”

However, the win came after a battle that saw the Bears overcome a halftime deficit and lead by as much as five points in the third quarter. Cal held the Beavers to their third-lowest point total of the season.

While Cal is a young team with only eight healthy players, no seniors and just two juniors, the team’s talented center Kristine Anigwe is the Pac-12’s second leading scorer, second in field goal percentage and sixth in rebounding. Her 21-point performance on Sunday moved her into eighth place on Cal’s all-time single season scoring list (567), surpassing former Bear forward Ashley Walker’s mark of 552. She also had seven rebounds.

“It was great game today,” Rueck said. “We knew they’d come with a bunch of energy and obviously, a lot of talent and athleticism. They really played great defense against us. We didn’t shoot a great percentage in the first half, they had a lot to do with that.”

The Bears held OSU’s leading scorer, senior guard Jamie Weisner to 11 points, below her average of 17 points per game. However, senior center Ruth Hamblin was unstoppable on the boards, pulling down 19, a career-high, to go with her 11 points and six blocks.

“Today was just a big gut check for this team,” Rueck said. “And credit Cal for that. I’m really proud of this team for the way they responded. We came into this game, knowing the circumstances, a lot of pressure, let alone that you’re playing a team that hasn’t won a lot of games but is extremely dangerous.”

OSU and Cal traded baskets for much of the first quarter. Neither team was able to pull away. Weisner made a three-point shot with 28 seconds left to give the Beavers a 14-8 lead heading into the next quarter.

During the middle of the second quarter, OSU went on a 7-2 run to earn an eight-point lead. With a free throw and a jumper from Anigwe, Cal closed the gap to five. At the break, she led all scorers with 11 but the Beavers were still in control, 24-19.

Cal started the third quarter on a 6-1 run. Freshman point guard Asha Thomas stole the ball from OSU senior forward Deven Hunter and raced to other end of the court for a layup to tie up the game, 25 all. The Bears went on another run to give them their largest lead of the game, 37-32 at 2:52.

“Today our team just clicked,” Thomas said about the effort of her team. “We were very confident with each other and we trusted each other. And I feel as if we played our butts off.”

Nevertheless, OSU countered late in the third, to tie the game up again. Sophomore forward/center Marie Gülich had a run of six points, beginning with a layup to end the period and two shots at the beginning of the fourth to help the Beavers regain control of the game and lead for the remainder of the contest.

With about four minutes to go in the game, the Beavers earned a double-digit lead for the first time, 51-39.

Rueck credited Gülich’s points with helping his team regain momentum and close out the game successfully.

Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was effusive in her praise for Rueck, last season’s Pac-12 Coach of the Year. He has been at the helm of OSU for six years guiding the team to national prominence and record-breaking performances over the past few years.

“First I want to congratulate Oregon State on a Pac-12 championship,” said Gottlieb. “That’s a legitimate top-10 team in the country. This team came in our gym three years ago and we were Pac-12 champs and a Final Four team and Jamie Weisner was a freshman and Ruth Hamblin was a freshman and they went there as a program and it was kind of in shambles and they decided to turn something around. While we want to win every game, to see what those kids have done and what Scott has done to put them in position to be a deep NCAA tournament team is pretty neat. I want to congratulate them on that.”

The Pac-12 tournament begins Thursday in Seattle. Cal faces Utah on Thursday. The Beavers enjoy a first-round bye and will face the winner of Thursday night’s USC vs. Washington State contest.

Last year, after a bye, OSU was stunned in their first tournament game, suffering a defeat at the hands of unranked Colorado in the second round. The Beavers do not intend to exit early this year.

“This team has not forgotten last year,” Rueck said, “and Colorado.”

Notes

  • Ruth Hamblin’s previous career high for rebounds was 17.
  • Hamblin passed Carol Menken (901) and moved into second on OSU’s all-time rebounding list with 917. She passed four players on the Pac-12 all-time list and moved into 26th place all-time.
  • It was OSU’s first win at Haas Pavilion since 2006.
  • The Beavers reached the 25-win mark for the second time in school history, and move within two wins of the school record of 27, set last season.
  • The Beavers outrebounded Cal 41-30 and held the Bears to 32 percent (19-60) shooting. OSU held its opponent to 54 points or less in 16 of its 18 conference games, and in 24 of 29 games overall.
  • Anigwe has scored in double figures in 27 of her 28 games played this season. This is the 19th time this season she has led or shared the lead in team scoring and the 14th game she has scored more than 20 points.
  • Oregon State starters: Gabriella Hanson, Jamie Weisner, Sydney Wiese, Deven Hunter, Ruth Hamblin.
  • Cal starters: Mikayla Cowling, Gabby Green, Asha Thomas, Kristine Anigwe, and Courtney Range.

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This post is part of the following threads: 2015-16 College Season, 2015-16 Pac-12 – ongoing stories on this site. View the thread timelines for more context on this post.


 

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