Despite loss, OSU vows to return to the Final Four

Brenden Slaughter Associate Sports Editor

As the postgame press conference began in the depths of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Sunday, there was an aura of silence across the media as seniors Jamie Weisner and Ruth Hamblin gingerly walked up the stairs of the podium.

You could hear the sadness between Weisner and Hamblin as they began to answer questions that they didn’t want to hear.

The Beavers lost to the Huskies 80-59, and the final score was still mightily generous. UConn controlled every aspect of the game, forcing OSU into turnovers, taking away their best player in Weisner and stifling their best interior presence in Hamblin. The Beavers never looked comfortable against the Huskies, and the final score proved OSU isn’t at UConn’s level yet.

Heck, no one is.

The Beavers shouldn’t fret about losing to UConn, because most every other team in country has lost to UConn over the past four years, as the Huskies have won 123 of their last 124 games, including four straight national championships.

“They can hit from everywhere. People come in off the bench and there’s no lag,” Weisner added as you could see the pain that was entrenched in her voice. “They expose every weakness and make you pay for it, force you into things you don’t want to do. And then offensively, I mean, they have weapons everywhere, every position.”

It was a hard truth, but the question had to be asked. Because plain and simple, Connecticut is the best women’s basketball program in the history of the sport.


So while the Beavers were disappointed with the ending of the season, fans shouldn’t fret over the future because this program is in good hands with head coach Scott Rueck, who has brought OSU from the ashes to greatness.

For those OSU fans that aren’t aware of what Rueck inherited when he arrived at OSU, check your history. Because there was literally almost nothing in the cupboard when he arrived.

But in just six short years, he has built a program that made it to the Final Four. If anyone told me that Rueck would have a team this far into the big dance way back in 2010, I would have looked that person in the eye and said two small words. You’re lying.

Sure, this loss to UConn will sting for a while. That’s to be expected; the Beavers had their best season in school history and broke almost every record in the book as they marched their way to Indianapolis.

Granted, they got beat by 29 points, but no one was angry with the loss after the emotions wore down. Not president Ed Ray, not athletic director Todd Stansbury and not even former athletic director Bob DeCarolis, who was in attendance to watch the coach that he hired back in 2010.

Once the emotions had settled, all of the players, administrators and Rueck were able to step back and realize that this was a dream season. They just happened to run into the best women’s basketball team the NCAA has ever seen.

But it was the seniors Weisner and Hamblin, who played their last games in an OSU uniform, who summed up just how special this season was.

“It’s been absolutely unreal. Yeah, just the work ethic of the people that came into this program and everyone bought into the vision that coach Rueck had, and we’ve all kind of been in this together, us against the world,” Hamblin said. “And it’s been a lot of fun and a lot of ups and downs, and obviously coming here to the Final Four has been the pinnacle moment for this program. And I’m so honored to have been a part of it.”

“The standard for this team is now the Final Four and since we made it, next is a national championship,” Weisner added while holding back tears. “The emotions of the game hurt right now, but in a couple days, it’s gonna be a celebration of what we did here

Despite the loss of seniors Deven Hunter, Samantha Siegner, Jen’Von’Ta Hill, Weisner, and Hamblin, the future still glows like the Fourth of July for the Beavers.

In terms of shooting percentages, freshman guard Katie McWilliams was the team’s most efficient player, going 3-for-3 on three-pointers versus UConn to give OSU a much needed scoring punch off of the bench.

With McWilliams stepping into a starting spot next season and other bench players such as junior forward Kolbie Orum and sophomore post Marie Gulich poised to make large contributions next season, the Beavers have the leadership and talent to keep OSU at the top.

“Obviously it’s a gonna be a tough road to get back, but (Rueck) is never going to stop working. We have a great group coming back, and people who the world hasn’t been exposed to, because they’ve been behind us,” Weisner said. “I have all the faith in this team that they will come back.”