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Spotty teams will still be in tourneys

Lest we deny women's basketball fans their news, here's the latest from the state's four major-college teams ÑÊPortland State, Portland, Oregon State and Oregon.

All four figure to make their conference postseason tournaments. Of course, in the case of OSU and UO, everybody in the Pacific-10 Conference makes the tourney.

Here we go:

Hedgepeth comes forward

It was the end of December, and Sarah Hedgepeth sat on the Portland State bench Ñ kind of a humiliating place for someone with her talent.

'That was an eye-opener,' she says.

One day, Hedgepeth told assistant coach Bruce Henderson, 'What the heck, I'm just going to play my game.'

Not long after that, she was a starter ÑÊand one of the Big Sky Conference's best players.

She's No. 2 in the Big Sky in scoring, averaging 17 points a game, and leads the conference in rebounding with 11 a game. She had 31 points and 12 rebounds against Sacramento State, 28 and 14 against Eastern Washington, and 15 and 16 against Northern Arizona. In all: six double-doubles in the past nine games.

'Honestly, I don't why,' she says, when asked what got into her. 'It was a mental thing. It clicked. I'm almost done with basketball Ñ I got another year and a half Ñ and I want to make the best of it.

'I just made a decision to step up and help out. For me, it was a mental and personal thing.'

The 6-foot Hedgepeth, a prep star for Springfield, has been outmatched heightwise in the post the whole season. 'In order for us to win games, we needed an inside and outside presence,' she says. 'The inside game wasn't making a good impression.'

Guard Nikki Petticrew leads the Vikings in scoring this season with 13 points per game; Hedgepeth is averaging 12.5 points and 8.8 rebounds. PSU needed Hedgepeth to play to her potential to take some heat off Petticrew.

The Vikings (10-12, 5-4 Big Sky) would have to collapse not to make the Big Sky tourney. They play at Eastern Washington (14-8, 5-4) on Saturday.

Prime-time Pilot steers team

The University of Portland women (10-14, 4-7 West Coast Conference) are also on track for their postseason tournament, thanks in large part to center Khalila O'Rielly-Williams.

O'Rielly-Williams, who has been named WCC player of the week twice, leads the league in scoring (17.7 points per game) and ranks among league leaders in eight of 12 categories.

A breakdown of the stats tells you about Portland: great at holding on to the ball (plus-4.3 turnover margin), making plays (11.4 steals) and scoring (64 points per game), but bad overall defensively (allowing 72 points and .468 shooting and being outrebounded by 13 per game).

The rebound stats really pop out. The Portland women have something in common with the men in that category.

Beavers hope for more

Another year, another so-so record for the Beavers under coach Judy Spoelstra: 12-11 overall and 6-8 in the Pac-10, making Spoelstra 107-116 in eight seasons.

A year removed from having all-Pac-10 guard Felicia Ragland, the Beavers have dipped to 58 points per game and 40 percent shooting (including 25 percent on 3-pointers). OSU was shooting 64 percent from the free-throw line entering the week.

Transfer Krystal Turner hasn't made as big an impact as expected. Sophomore guard Juleen Smith has missed eight consecutive games (hamstring), and her return this season is doubtful. The injury takes away half of the Beavers' electric backcourt; steady Leilani Estavan averages 12 points and five assists a game.

Forward Hollye Chapman also averages 12 points a game.

OSU ends its home schedule Saturday against Washington State, which recently ended a long losing streak.

Young Ducks may surge

With Cathrine Kraayeveld back in the mix, the Ducks have some hope of upsetting a few teams in the Pac-10 tournament. A trip to the NCAA Tournament seems unlikely, though, which means the Ducks will simply play host to the first- and second-round games at McArthur Court on March 22 and 24 and not play in them.

The Ducks were 10-13 overall and 6-8 in Pac-10 play entering the week, but they were coming off a 68-58 win over Oregon State. With Kraayeveld's injury and Shaquala Williams' dismissal, coach Bev Smith has had to switch gears and go with youth.

Canadian freshman Carolyn Ganes has been a pleasant addition, averaging 12 points per game and scoring in double figures in nine of the past 10 games. Sophomore Brandi Davis has been stellar at times, averaging 11 points. Senior Alissa Edwards has been the steadying force.

NOTES: Every year, it seems, the Pilot men have a stunner in them. This season, it came Wednesday, when Michael Holton's team dumped first-place Gonzaga 72-68 in Spokane, Wash. The Pilots led by as many as 16 points in snapping the Bulldogs' 21-game WCC home winning streak. It always helps when the undersized Pilots rediscover their shooting touch. Guards Eugene Jeter, Donald Wilson and Adam Quick combined to score 45 points as UP shot .490 from the field to Goznaga's 339.

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