For the second straight season, Oregon State will play for a Pac-12 Tournament title.
With four players in double figures — led by Sydney Wiese’s 19 — the Beavers advanced to the championship game with a 63-53 victory over UCLA on Saturday night at KeyArena.
Mikayla Pivec had 15 points, Gabriella Hanson had 12, and Marie Gulich had 10 along with a career-high 16 rebounds for Oregon State. Jordin Canada had 27 points to pace the Bruins, while Monique Billings finished with six points and eight rebounds.
Though Oregon State turned the ball over a season-high 22 times, the Bruins couldn’t capitalize, plagued by cold shooting, especially in the second-half. UCLA shot 31 percent for the game, and 23 percent over the final 20 minutes.
“Oregon State’s a really good team,” said UCLA head coach Cori Close. “They were the No. 1 seed for a reason. I thought they — in the second half, they outexecuted us. Especially to start the second half, they got layups and we got misses.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, UCLA took a seven-point lead — its largest of the night — with just over four minutes to play in the second, after a lay in from Canada. The Bruins took a three-point advantage into the break.
That stretch came with defensive stopper Hanson on the bench for the final eight minutes of the quarter.
“I think everybody saw her impact,” said Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck. “If you wonder who Gabby Hanson is to our program, you saw that. They were able to get out and go.”
But as Oregon State pulled ahead in the third, while UCLA went 3-of-16 from the field in the quarter, Close believed her team was getting good looks at the basket.
“We were getting some one-on-one opportunities and we were getting the ball out out of the double team, and we just weren’t making shots,” Close said. “If you don’t make shots against them, they’re so packed in the key that it’s really hard to get second shot opportunities. We weren’t pulling away from the basket at all.”
That was something Canada saw as well.
“it just sucked that we weren’t making shots,” said the junior guard. “But I thought our offensive execution was great.”
Despite the team’s offensive struggles, the Bruins remained close late. With a pair of jumpers by Kennedy Burke, UCLA pulled within three with just over four minutes in regulation.
But two three-pointers from Wiese, a jumper from Gulich, and a lay up from Pivec put the game away.
For Close, the inability to turn OSU turnovers into points was too much to overcome.
“Especially in the first half, and even in the fourth quarter I thought we forced some really difficult shots and possessions for them,” she said. “We forced them into those turnovers every time we’ve played them, and the difference was we didn’t capitalize as much off of those turnovers. We didn’t get as many points off of those turnovers as the previous couple of games.”
Oregon State will play Stanford with the chance to win back-to-back tournament crowns. The Beavers won both matchups against the Cardinal this season, a 72-69 double-overtime win in Palo Alto on Jan. 8, and a 50-47 win in Corvallis on Feb. 24.
“It’s tough to go against a team three times in such a short span of time,” Wiese said. “It’s a grind. The conference tournament is always a grind, but we’re going to do whatever is necessary to cut down that net.”
Oregon State wins the season series 2-1. UCLA won the first matchup between the two, 66-56, on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles, while the Beavers won the rematch on Feb. 12 in Coravallis, 68-61 … Marie Gulich‘s previous career-high for rebounds was 13, set earlier this season against Colorado on Jan. 22 … Breana Brown tied a career-high with four blocks … Monique Billings tied the UCLA record for blocks in a season with her 61st … Sydney Wiese is 13th on the NCAA career list for 3-point field goals, with 368 in her career … Oregon State would be the first program outside of Stanford to win the Pac-12 Tournament in back-to-back seasons … Jordin Canada was effusive in her praise of teammate, senior Kari Korver: “There’s no other person that I’d rather play basketball with than this one right here,” she said. “She is the epitome of a basketball player. Her heart, her dedication to this team is unbelievable, and sometimes it doesn’t show on the court, but off the court, you guys have no idea how much she affects this game and affects our team.”