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Beavers Wipe Out Wildcats, Clinch Bye

Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck:

Oregon State Alyssa Martin and Gabby Hanson:

Courtesy: OSU Sports Information

CORVALLIS, Ore.– In what has become common during the Beavers’ now eight-game win streak, the Oregon State women’s basketball team demolished yet another conference opponent, this time taking out Arizona, 78-48, in front of 4,631 in Gill Coliseum on Friday night.

Each win during OSU’s perfect stretch has come by double digits, but none greater than the 30-point margin of victory that it hung on the Wildcats. It was the Beavers’ biggest win in conference play since beating Cal 68-37 on Jan. 11, 2003, but more importantly it clinched a top-four league finish and first-round bye in next weekend’s conference tournament.

The performance also garnered Oregon State (20-9, 12-5) just the ninth 20-win season in program history and tied the school record for Pac-10/12 wins, a pair of numbers which have large NCAA Tournament implications. No 20-win Pac-12 school with 12 league victories has even been left out of the field. The Beavers will go for 21 and 13 when they meet No. 20 Arizona State in a showdown for third place in the Pac-12 on Sunday at 1 p.m.

On Friday, OSU showed the offensive balance and defensive tenacity which has become its trademark during its ascension to the top of the Pac-12 and into the national discussion.

Nine Beavers scored, including three in double figures. As a team, Oregon State shot 55.1 percent (27-of-49) from the field, its best in a Pac-12 game since hitting 55.8 percent against Arizona on Feb. 11, 2006. From behind the arc, OSU was 12-of-22 (54.5 percent). Prior to this year, Oregon State had only connected on 12 3-pointers in a game just three times in program history, a feat it has already accomplished five times this season.

Arizona (5-23, 1-16) scored the game’s first four points before the Beavers reeled off the next eight, capped off by an old-fashioned 3-point play from Ali Gibson. OSU’s run would grow to 13-2 as Deven Hunter made a triple, her sixth in her last seven attempts, then followed that up with a netting a pair at the line.

The Wildcats would keep themselves within single digits until Gabriella Hanson hit one from distance with 4:43 until the half to give Oregon State a 34-23 lead. Breanna Workman hit a jumper on Arizona’s next possession to get the deficit back to nine, but Sydney Wiese promptly nailed her fourth 3-pointer of the first half to grow her team’s edge back to 12, 37-25, and the Beavers would never again lead by less than 10.

Wiese had all 14 of her points in the opening stanza on 4-for-7 shooting from deep. She now has 89 3-point makes and is in sole possession of sixth place on the Pac-12’s single-season list, one behind Stanford Candice Wiggins (2006).

Of Oregon State’s 16 first-half field goals, 10 came from 3-point range. The Beavers had 11 assists against just two turnovers at the break and held a 46-32 advantage. OSU would finish the game with a season-low eight turnovers while handing out 18 assists.

It was much of the same in the second half, as the Beavers opened the period on a 17-4 run over 7:42 and led 61-36 when Khadidja Toure drove through traffic for a layup with 10:38 left in the game.

Even if Oregon State did not score in the first nearly 18 minutes of the second half, Arizona wouldn’t have tied the game until there was 2:37 left, when Keyahndra Cannon made a free throw for the Wildcats’ 46th point.

Defensively, the Beavers held Arizona to just five made field goals on 25 attempts in the final 20 minutes (20 percent), and limited their opponent to just 34.6 percent shooting (18-of-52) on the night.

Gabriella Hanson led OSU with 16 points. In addition to Wiese’s 14, senior Alyssa Martin tied a season-high with 14 points of her own on 4-of-5 shooting from deep to go along with five rebounds and four assists. The Beavers will celebrate her career before Sunday’s game against the Sun Devils.

Ali Gibson had eight points and tied career highs with seven assists and six steals. Ruth Hamblin tallied four blocks and now has 108 this season, just 11 shy of the Pac-12 single-season record.

The crowd of 4,631 was the biggest to watch the Beavers in Gill since 5,127 saw the Civil War on Jan. 28, 2007.

Another big game comes on Sunday, when Oregon State hosts Arizona State (22-7, 11-6) at 1 p.m. with third place in the Pac-12 on the line. The Beavers haven’t finished that high in the conference standings since 1995-96 when they came in second, which is also the last time they earned an NCAA Tournament berth.

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