Beavers slow Plum, defeat Washington

Sydney Wiese

OSU uses gritty second-half defense to advance to Pac-12 Tournament championship

With 6:16 left in the game, the Beavers led 57-50.

They didn’t score after, but it didn’t matter.

The first-seeded Oregon State women’s basketball team was able to squeeze out the victory over fifth-seeded Washington, 57-55, in the semifinal game of the Pac-12 tournament.

The Beavers (27-4) held the Huskies (22-10) to just five points in that same 6:16 span, preventing guard Kelsey Plum from tying the game at the final buzzer.

Plum came into the contest averaging 26.6 points per game, good for third for the country.

She was held to just 14 points on 4-for-19 shooting.

Senior guard Jamie Weisner had just two words to describe the defensive effort on Plum.

“Gabby Hanson,” she said.

The junior guard played 36 minutes Friday, and was tasked with guarding Plum for much of the night.

“Gabby (Hanson) has done a phenomenal done on her,” head coach Scott Rueck said. “She’s as underrated of a defender as you’ll ever see.”

The game started at a real back and forth pace, as the teams traded buckets for much of the first quarter.

The Beavers did get out to a lead by as much as seven in that opening period, but Washington’s hot shooting helped to close the gap. Through 10 minutes, the game was tied 21-21, with the Huskies shooting 5-for-6 from three-point range. Junior guard Sydney Wiese led OSU with seven points.

Washington continued to shoot well in the second quarter, gaining a six-point advantage with 1:34 to play in the first half. Weisner responded right after, however, scoring two-straight three pointers to tie the game at 35.

Plum was fouled late, and made a pair at the charity stripe to give the Huskies a 37-35 advantage heading into the locker room. Through 20 minutes, the game was tied seven times and there were three lead changes.

“It was a lot of fun in the first half,” Wiese said. “Obviously you don’t want to trade baskets with Washington, but if they’re going to score we’ve got to score back, so I think we did a really good job responding consistently.”

The second half marked a change in gameplay, switching from a run and gun style, to a slower, defensive contest. That change went in OSU’s favor in the third quarter, who outscored the Huskies 13-7, holding them to 2-for-14 shooting in the frame.

“We talked about it at halftime that we needed to be a lot more gritty on defense,” Wiese said.

Washington attempted to make a comeback in the fourth, but poor shooting and a stingy defensive effort by the Beavers prevented that from happening. As a team, Washington was only 6-for-32 in the second half, and no Husky player shot 50 percent from the floor.

“We relied on what we rely on, and that is our defense,” Rueck said on the second half. “Our defense was outstanding.”

Aside from Hanson’s phenomenal individual defense on Plum, the big-three for OSU performed well again. Wiese and Weisner combined for 36 points and eight three-pointers, and senior center Ruth Hamblin had a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists.

Hamblin blocked three shots on the night as well, setting the career Tournament record for blocked shots with 24.

OSU will move on to play UCLA in the championship Sunday, the second time in three years that the Beavers have reached the Pac-12 tournament final.

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