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Beavers a win away from outright Pac-12 title

CORVALLIS — Jamie Weisner said she and Ali Gibson were talking not too long ago about just how far the Oregon State women’s basketball team has come.

The Beavers entered last week ranked No. 7 in the country and the players knew that if they could sweep their final road trip of the season, they would wrap up at least a share of the school’s first Pac-12 title.

On Sunday, that scenario played out as the Beavers were able to fend off Utah for a 52-42 victory that clinched at least a share of the title. They remained No. 7 in the poll this week.

“It’s incredible to go through this experience with this team and just see all our hard work pay off and have so much success,” Weisner said.

The team then waited for two outcomes that would give them the title outright.

First, the Beavers needed California to knock off Stanford. The Golden Bears did, winning 63-53 at Maples Pavilion.

That loss meant Stanford’s run of winning or sharing the Pac-12 title ended at 14 straight years.

“Well, that was a good 15 years. That was fun," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “… We have to focus on the Pac-12 tournament to guarantee ourselves an NCAA tournament bid.”

Then, the Beavers waited to see if USC could knock off Arizona State. The game went to double overtime before the Sun Devils held on, 76-73, to remain in the hunt for a shared title.

ASU must win its last two games — at home against Utah and Colorado — and hope the Beavers lose at home to No. 19 Stanford and No. 24 Cal.

“It just puts out a statement that it's not only Stanford anymore,” Cal’s Mercedes Jefflo said of a new team at the top. “It’s multiple teams, and it’s always going to be a battle.”

Regardless of what happens this week, the Beavers (25-2, 15-1) have wrapped up the No. 1 seed to next week’s Pac-12 tournament.

Weisner said one of her goals when she signed with the Beavers was to beat Stanford. If that happens Thursday, it would wrap up the outright title. If not, the Beavers get a second chance — assuming Arizona State doesn’t lose — at home Saturday vs. Cal.

“It’s just incredible and it’s a blessing for sure,” Weisner said.

The team was welcomed home outside Gill Coliseum by the band, Benny Beaver and athletic director Bob De Carolis.

“A moment like today causes you to reflect on the journey of the last five years,” coach Scott Rueck after the win at Utah. “It makes you think about all of these incredible student-athletes; all of the players that chose Oregon State when it wasn’t the cool place to go. To see them rewarded like this makes me so happy.”

The Beavers have held the last three opponents under 50 points and have accomplished that feat eight times this season.

OSU leads the Pac-12 in field-goal defense, allowing teams to shoot just 34 percent, and is second in scoring defense at 56.6. Arizona State leads the conference at 56 points allowed per game.

The Beavers lead the conference with 44 rebounds per game, including a conference-best 31.2 defensive boards.

OSU also leads the conference in blocked shots per game with 5.8, thanks to 3.7 per game from Ruth Hamblin.

Sophomore point guard Sydney Wiese was one of 15 players named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Final 15 on Monday. The award goes to the nation’s top point guard.

Wiese is third on the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game and leads OSU with 5.6 assists per game. She leads the Pac-12 with three 3-pointers per game and is shooting a conference-best .457 from deep.