'Dialed-in' Beavers win with aggressive offense, defense
CORVALLIS — Known for its defense, Oregon State turned to "super-aggressive" offense to build a lead against Creighton and beat the Bluejays 64-52 Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Women's Tournament.
The Beavers (31-4) never trailed, and were tied with the Bluejays (24-8) for only 14 seconds as seniors Sydney Wiese, Gabriella Hanson and Kolbie Orum and redshirt junior Breanna Brown (who has graduated and gone through Senior Day festivities) played for the final time at Gill Coliseum.
The four were part of a 61-6 record at Gill, which had another great crowd — 5,660 fans, impressing even the visiting team.
"To finish up a run on our home floor is like a storybook ending," said Wiese, who bounced back from a tough shooting night against Long Beach State with 13 points. "Thankfully, we have more basketball to play."
The second-seeded Beavers will play No. 3 Florida State in the Sweet 16 West regional in Stockton, California. It will be the OSU program's second consecutive Sweet 16 berth. The Beavers made the Final Four last season.
"Huge day for our program," Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said.
After scoring 56 points against Long Beach State on Friday, the Beavers scored 39 in the first half Sunday.
Hanson, who had scored in double figures four times entering the game, had 11 points by halftime.
Oregon State finished the night shooting .426 from the field and outrebounding Creighton 45-32.
Hanson totaled 13 points, and Marie Gulich had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Mikayla Pivec had nine points, and Brown and Orum posted eight each.
"It was important to be super-aggressive" offensively, Hanson said. 'We said this could be a game where five or six players could be in double figures."
Said Rueck: "I loved the way we scored in the first half. I love how we executed all game."
Creighton coach Jim Flanery called Hanson, OSU's defensive stopper, "probably the difference in the game" because of her first-half offense.
The OSU defense did its part, too, limiting the Bluejays of the Big East Conference to .367 shooting, including 2 of 10 on 3-pointers.
Like Long Beach State, a team giving up height to the Beavers, Creighton presented some challenges, Rueck said.
"They are so difficult to guard," Rueck said. "I knew it'd take a heroic effort to slow them down," because of the Bluejays' efficient offense and 3-point shooting.
"They did a good job of taking away the 3-point line," Flanery said.
The Bluejays fell behind and had to use a small lineup and then had a hard time rebounding.
The Beavers led by 15 points twice in the third quarter. Creighton narrowed the deficit to 54-48 on Sydney Lamberty's driving basket with 6:42 left.
But, after a timeout, Hanson drove for a basket, the Beavers forced a miss and Pivec hit a jumper for a 10-point lead. Later, Orum's jumper with the shot clock running down kept the lead at 10.
The Beavers held Creighton without a field goal for the final 5:20.
"We played from behind, but we were never out of the game," Flanery said. "That's tough, especially against a really good team and in a tough place to play."
The Bluejays talked about how exciting it was to play OSU at Gill.
"Awesome experience. We wouldn't want to play anywhere else (in the NCAA tourney)," Lamberty said.
Added Marissa Janning: "This is just unreal. The crowd was crazy. It's an experience you have to embrace and remember for the rest of our lives."
Lamberty had 19 points, and Brianna Rollerson chipped in with 10 points and nine rebounds. The Beavers held Janning to seven points.
A one-point win over Long Beach State served as a wakeup call, Hanson said, and "we were super dialed-in (Sunday). We were super focused."
The Beavers now get another shot at trying to make the Final Four.
"You forget how hard it is to get here — both these games proved that," Hanson said.