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After win, OSU turns focus to No. 14 Vols

CORVALLIS — There was one more formality for the Oregon State women’s basketball team on Tuesday — entertain a crowd of energetic elementary and middle school students that nearly filled Gill Coliseum, and take care of business against Cal State Bakersfield.

The No. 7 Beavers did both as they improved to 8-0 heading into Saturday’s 6 p.m. showdown against No. 14 Tennessee with a 75-51 victory over the Roadrunners before a crowd of 7,824 in the annual Beavers Beyond the Classroom game. It’s the third largest crowd ever in Gill for a women’s game.

Now, finally, the Beavers can focus on the Volunteers.

“I’m very excited about it and I think the whole team is, actually I know we are,” said senior Jamie Weisner, who led OSU with 14 points on Tuesday. “We haven’t talked about it much but that’s been in our minds since we went there last year. Just to get a second chance at them in front of our home crowd, I’m pretty sure Gill’s going to be rocking. Just excited to get back here and play in front of our fans and that competition.”

The Beavers dropped a 74-63 decision to the Lady Vols last season in a game that was close until the final few minutes. It was their first loss of the season.

On Tuesday, it took the Beavers a little while to get going, thanks in part to the raucous crowd that provided a different backdrop.

“It was loud and it had a great energy to it and it is weird to play in for a while and then you get comfortable and used to it,” Rueck said.

The Beavers, up just 15-10 after the first quarter, used a 16-4 run to open the second to go up 17 midway through the period.

A 17-4 spurt in the first 2:13 of the third turned a 15-point halftime edge into 28 and put the game out of reach.

“I thought that was one of the better stretches of the year for us so far,” Rueck said of the start of the third quarter. “Our defense, I felt, was phenomenal all day.”

Weisner led a balanced scoring attack with 14 points while Ruth Hamblin added 12 and Deven Hunter 11 for the Beavers. All 11 players who saw action scored at least three points and the Beavers made 32 of 62 attempts with 24 assists.

The Beavers led by as many as 30 early in the fourth quarter before the Roadrunners (1-10) used a 10-0 run to get within 20 and later cut the deficit to 18 before scoring just two points the final three minutes.

Oregon State’s defense forced the Roadrunners into a 6-for-30 shooting performance in the first half to take a 37-22 lead into the break.

Bakersfield stayed in the game thanks to 10 points from Batabe Zempare, who had five of the Roadrunners’ six field goals. The Roadrunners also were 10 for 10 from the free-throw line.

Zempare finished with 14 while Alyssa Shannon and Dajy Vines chipped in 12 each.

The crowd got really loud late in the game as they did the wave and watched the video board as they danced to the song “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silento.

That’s about the time it hit Weisner how boisterous the crowd really was.

“I didn’t actually really notice it at the beginning and then I thought toward the end it just starting getting louder and louder and louder to where I was like I couldn’t think,” she said, putting her hands on her ears. “It’s just a lot of fun to play in front of that many people and kids, sometimes they don’t even know who we are and they come and just love us right away. That’s always enjoyable.”

Added Rueck: “Overall just a great day a lot of good things for our program and our team.”

Oregon State's Ruth Hamblin high fives fans after Oregon State defeated CSU Bakersfield 75-51 in Corvallis Tuesday. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS