Regulation college basketball games last 40 minutes. It says so right there in the rule book. On Sunday night, however, Oregon State and UCLA decided 20 minutes was more than enough time to decide the Pac-12 Conference tournament championship.
The eighth-ranked Beavers boat-raced their way to a 44-17 lead with a scintillating first-half performance and downed No. 12 UCLA 69-57 at KeyArena. A fourth-quarter rally by the Bruins, fueled by turnovers created with a full-court press, was much too little, much too late.
“The first half might have been the best first half we’ve maybe ever played,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said.
“You’ve got to give credit to Oregon State,” UCLA point guard Jordin Canada said. “They executed really well, and I guess we came out and weren’t as focused as we should have been.”
Both teams were already certain to advance to the NCAA tournament. UCLA coach Cori Close said she believes the Beavers have Final Four potential, and Rueck wholeheartedly agreed.
“I believe this team absolutely has what it takes,” Rueck said.
The conference tournament title is a first for the Beavers, who won the past two regular-season championships (Arizona State was co-champ this year). Oregon State is certain to host first- and second-round games as one of the top 16 seeds.
”We’re not satisfied, even with this victory,” point guard Sydney Wiese stressed.
Wiese joined teammates Jamie Weisner and Ruth Hamblin on the all-tournament team, with Weisner landing the Most Outstanding Player award. The three have led Oregon State all season, and they combined for 63 of the team’s 69 points in the title game.
“They’re superstars,” Rueck said.
Hamblin, a 6-foot-6 senior center, recorded a season high with 23 points, a career high with 20 rebounds and a title game record with five blocked shots. She also set the Pac-12 career record of 405 blocks, topping the 402 of former Oregon Duck Stefanie Kasperski.
Hamblin teamed with defensive whiz Gabby Hanson to help limit UCLA (24-8), the Pac-12’s top offensive team, to 30.9 percent shooting from the field. The Beavers doubled the Bruins in rebounds, 50-24.
Washington point guard Kelsey Plum was named to the all-tournament team along with Canada (who led UCLA with 17 points Sunday) and California forward Kristine Anigwe.
The title game drew 4,795. A record 27,613 turned out over four days.