What: South Dakota State (24-8) vs. Oregon State (26-4), NCAA Tournament first-round game.
When: 2 p.m., Friday
Where: Gill Coliseum
On the air: ESPN2 and 3; Beaver Radio Network
Series: OSU leads 1-0. The Beavers defeated South Dakota State during the 2004 Paradise Jam Tournament. (Writer’s note: Could not find the score. My apologies.) Beavers assistant coach Mandy Close played on that OSU team.
Notes: OSU is making its seventh NCAA appearance, and is hosting its first-ever NCAA tournament game at Gill. In their previous six NCAA tourney games, the Beavers had a 3-6 record, with their last win coming last year against Middle Tennessee State.
Is there a better way to get over a disappointing (and shocking) first-round exit from the Pac-12 Tournament than hosting an NCAA Tournament game? The OSU women’s team will find out this Friday when they take on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
About that loss to Colorado two weeks ago… Sure, it sucked. But it doesn’t take away from arguably the greatest season in school history. The Beavers claimed their first Pac-12 championship, won a school-record 26 games including a 16-2 mark in conference play, finished ranked in top 10 nationally, and led the conference attendance.
Individually, junior Ruth Hamblin was named Pac-12 player of the year, defensive player of the year, and was a All-Pac-12 first team. Joining her on the All-Pac-12 team was junior Jamie Weisner and sophomore Sydney Wiese. Not only did the Beavers’ three first team selections lead the conference, but also marked the most in the season for OSU. And last but not least, coach Scott Rueck was selected Pac-12 coach of the year by both the media and his fellow coaches.
Considering where the program was when Rueck took over, the Beavers’ ongoing turnaround has been remarkable, and this results are a testament to the hard work and commitment from the players, coaches, and fan base hav
Simply put, this has been a storybook season for Beavers — and the great thing is they aren’t done adding more chapters to that story. They have the talent, depth, chemistry, and coaching to make a serious run in the tourney. That said, here are some keys for Friday’s matchup.
Start and Finish Strong. The Beavers are favorites, but as we all know, anything can happen this time of year. And while they have been adept at going on runs and taking control of close or sluggish games, the Beavers would be best served by leaving no doubt in this game. The Jackrabbits have nothing to lose and if the Beavers come out slow, they could be in trouble. A slow start is what killed them against Colorado.
Establish the Hammer. She may not be focal part of the Beavers’ offense, but Ruth Hamblin is the cog that makes the wheel go. So the Beavers need to get the ball to her often, so she can use her sheer size advantage and get into a rhythm, If that happens, it will open things up for the Beavers’ usually potent perimeter game. However, if Hamblin struggles, it puts pressure on Sydney Wiese and Jamie Weisner.
Play Loose. Yes, the Beavers want to put behind their early Pac-12 tourney exit, but they shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves. After all, they will be playing in front of the best crowd in the conference and they do have the comfort of having been here before and winning. So they need to treat it like another game, be relaxed, and have fun. If they do that, there’s a good chance things will fall nicely into place.
Congrats on an amazing season Lady Beavers! Lets keep it going with a March Madness run. Go Beavs! (RW)