Berkeley, Calif. – The Oregon State women's basketball team repeated as Pacific-12 Conference champions on Sunday by defeating California 54-44 in its final game of the regular season.
The No. 7-ranked Beavers (25-4, 16-2) earned a share of the crown they captured outright in 2015 when UCLA upset Arizona State 74-61 in Los Angeles. The Beavers and Sun Devils finished as co-champions and OSU earned the top seed for the upcoming Pac-12 tournament by virtue of a 67-44 win over ASU on Feb. 1 in their only meeting of the season.
"I couldn't be more proud," said Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck. "To say we're back-to-back Pac-12 champions, you dream of stuff like that. This is the No. 1 conference in the country and to come out on top is a great accomplishment. I couldn't behappier for this team, and for the support we have received from Beaver Nation."
OSU rebounded strongly from Friday night's loss at Stanford and led 14-8 after the first quarter and 24-17 at halftime. But it went cold in the third quarter, and the Golden Bears (13-16, 4-14) assumed a 37-32 lead with 2:38 left. However, the Beavers closed the period on a 7-0 tear to take a 39-37 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Golden Bears tied the game 39-39, but OSU responded with a 15-0 run to build an insurmountable 54-39 advantage with 3:26 remaining. Sophomore forward Marie Gulich had back-to-back baskets for a 43-39 lead and senior guard Jamie Weisner added a 3-point play for a 46-39 advantage.
Successive 3-pointers by freshman guard Katie McWilliams and junior guard Gabriella Hanson capped the run and gave OSU an insurmountable 54-39 lead with 3:26 left.
The Beavers didn't score again, but they didn't need to, and they celebrated their repeat Pac-12 title about 30 minutes later when UCLA closed out ASU.
Senior center Ruth Hamblin scored 11 points, grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds and blocked six shots to spark the comeback win. Her previous career high for rebounds was 17, at Marquette earlier this season.
Weisner had 11 points, five assists and five rebounds. Hanson and senior forward Deven Hunter scored nine points each and Gulich added six points and four rebounds off the bench to help fuel the decisive run.
The Beavers outrebounded Cal 41-30 and held the Bears to 32 percent (19-60) shooting. OSU held its opponent to 54 points or less in 16 of its 18 conference games, and in 24 of 29 games overall.
Hamblin passed Carol Menken (901) and moved into second on OSU's all-time rebounding list with 917. She passed four players on the Pac-12 all-time list and moved into 26th place all-time.
Hamblin also moved closer to the Pac-12 blocked shots record; she has 394 for her career, just eight behind leader Stefanie Kaspersi of Oregon, who had 402 from 1987-90.
The women's basketball crown was the second Pac-12 title won by the Beavers this weekend. On Saturday, the wrestling team captured its fifth consecutive Pac-12 championship at Arizona State.
The Beavers resume play Friday in the second round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament in Seattle, against the winner of Thursday night's USC-Washington State opening-round game. It will be televised by Pac-12 Networks.