#1 Oregon State (63) v. #8 USC (53)
A quick start from the Beavers would ultimately prove to be enough for top-seeded Oregon State in a 10-point win over USC in front of a staunchly pro-OSU crowd.
“I just loved our energy to start,” said Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck.
After falling behind by 10 after the first 10 minutes, the Trojans would chip away at the Oregon State lead, getting it down to three in the second and again early in the third quarter, and cutting the deficit to five with about three minutes to play.
But outside of the game’s opening two minutes, the Beavers led from wire to wire.
That was in no small part due to Ruth Hamblin and Jamie Weisner.
Hamblin — tasked with defending USC All-Pac-12 forward Temi Fagbenle — finished with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting, along with 12 rebounds. Fagbenle was held to just 10 points and 6 boards on the night.
Meanwhile, Weisner seemed unstoppable at times, making each of her first seven shots (including four 3-pointers), en route to a 20-point, 10-rebound performance.
Sydney Weise also finished 4-for-5 from 3-point range, and had 17 points for the Beavers. She finished one assist shy of a double-double.
Combined, that trio combined for 54 of Oregon State’s 63 points on the night.
“Defending any of the three of those was giving us particularly a lot of trouble,” USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. “You know, when you talk about Weisner and Wiese and Hamblin, you pick your poison.”
In all, Cooper-Dyke said the Beavers just executed.
“They came out, they executed half court, they handled our pressure, and then they shot the ball extremely well tonight,” she said.
Those outings from Hamblin, Weisner, and Weise also helped to minimize the damage of 21 turnovers.
“That’s the No. 1 we just talked about in the locker room,” Rueck said. “That’s too many.”
Cooper-Dyke said her team struggled with offensive execution, and the Beavers made it difficult on defense to get the ball to Fagbenle and Kristen Simon.
However, the coach was happy with the way her team continued to fight, and looked for different ways to get to the basket.
With a record of 19-13 (6-13 against conference foes), it’s wait-and-see time for the Trojans. The loss likely dashed any remaining tournament hopes, but a post-season bid could still remain in the offing.
Meanwhile, the Beavers play at least one more night in front of a big pack of traveling fans.
“I love looking up and seeing a sea of orange and familiar faces,” Weisner said.
#4 Stanford (65) v. #5 Washington (73)
Kelsey Plum played 40 minutes on Friday night.
So did Talia Walton.
So did Alexus Atchley.
And so did Katie Collier.
Chantel Osahor? A mere 36.
While Washington has relied heavily on its starters throughout the season, Friday night was different.
“I had this feeling that our group is so tied together right now, and locked in, and I wasn’t going to get in their way tonight,” said UW head coach Mike Neighbors. “They know what to do.”
So as the first quarter bled into the second, and the second into the third, the group on the floor stayed the same. It wasn’t until Osahor picked up her fourth foul that Neighbors went to his bench. And even then, Mathilde Gilling only played four minutes.
Ultimately, the plan played off, as the Huskies pulled off a 73-65 upset over Stanford in front of a raucous home crowd at KeyArena.
As always for the Huskies, Plum provided much of the scoring punch, finishing with 29 points, while Walton had 19, including the biggest 3 of the night.
With less than 30 seconds to play, and the UW nursing a three-point lead, Walton fired a three after her defender slipped to the floor with the shot clock winding down to put the game away.
“We’ve got this,” she said when asked what was going through her mind after the shot. “We won. This is it. We’re at the peak.”
That shot ended what to that point had been a furious Stanford rally. The Cardinal had trailed by as many as 16 early in the third quarter, and by 12 with just 5:41 to play.
That included a five-point swing with three minutes to go, after Plum was assessed a technical foul after hitting Karlie Samuelson in the face with her arm in a jumpball scrum.
“I was just trying to get my arm out of there because it was in a really bad position, so that’s why I was moving it,” Plum said.
Alas, Stanford got no closer. Erica McCall led the Cardinal with 22 points, while Samuelson and Lili Thompson each had 14.
Plum’s 29-point performance was also enough to push her past Jazmine Davis for the top spot on the UW’s All-Time scoring list.
As for what that honor means to her?
“Not a thing,” she said.
Next up for the Huskies is another tall task against Ruth Hamblin and Oregon State. The game promises to be one of the best attended in conference tournament history, as a well-traveling Oregon State fan base faces the hometown Huskies.
“I hope we fill this place up,” Neighbors said. “ … Seattle needs to come out here and really fill this bowl up.”