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33 years later, challenge awaits Oregon State in Sweet 16

Oregon State will face DePaul in the third round of the NCAA tournament to mark their return to the Sweet Sixteen 33 years later. DePaul’s experience playing in the Sweet 16 will create a tough matchup between the two offensive powerhouses.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas, TX -- The Oregon State women's basketball team is returning to the ever-so-sweet Sweet 16 for the first time in 33 years. The Beavers will match up against DePaul in their first meeting together in the semifinals of the Dallas Regional on March 26.

The Blue Demons of DePaul are making their fourth Sweet 16 appearance, their third since 2011. DePaul is only one of six teams to appear in the last 14 NCAA tournaments, joining the elite list of schools like UConn, Notre Dame, and Tennessee.

In the second round, DePaul clinched a one-point victory over Louisville to advance while Oregon State beat St. Bonaventure 69-40, extending their win streak to six.

Against St. Bonaventure, Oregon State's defense had to change. St. Bonaventure played more of a running game, going with a smaller lineup. The Beavers will face this same tactic against DePaul.

"DePaul loves to score. They love to get out in transition, and they love to run. I love that about them. Every coach wants that," Oregon State Head Coach Scott Rueck said. "We're a team that doesn't want you to be able to do that. We want to control tempo, so this game is going to be a contrast in that regard."

Oregon State's offensive boasts it's own special way of scoring, led by senior guard Jamie Weisner. Weisner is a second-team All-American and the Pac-12 Player of the Year. Weisner shoots 48.2 percent from the floor, leading the team in scoring.

As Weisner holds down the offensive attack, Oregon State rounds out it's team with a 6'6" shot blocker in Ruth Hamblin. The senior center averages almost 12 points a game, 10 rebounds a game, and 3.4 blocks a game. Hamblin was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row, while being the NCAA's active leader in career blocks.

"Oregon State is strong because they have the great inside presence of Ruth," DePaul Head Coach Doug Bruno said. "They have perimeter players and size and great guard skills. Oregon State has the ability to space the floor."

Oregon State's defense and shot blocking ability will have its matchup against DePaul's quick tempo. DePaul's ability to get down the floor can be contributed to their capacity to pass amongst one another. DePaul stands at third within all D1 schools with 728 total assists and boasts 20.8 assists per game, with UConn leading the country with 21.5.

"The essence to me of basketball is sharing the basketball. The best teams, year-in, year-out, at any level are sharing teams. I just think it's something we create as a culture," Bruno said. "If there is one thing we pound into our players it's that this whole sport is about sharing the ball."

Behind the assist madness stands junior guard Jessica January, the Big East's leader with 5.9 assists per game. January is also only one of four players that holds a perfect game from the free throw line.

"It's going to be a great defensive challenge for us, one that's been fun to prepare for and it will be - it's going to be an awesome challenge," Rueck said.

The two teams will face one other after the Baylor and Florida State, with the Baylor/Florida State team starting at 3 pm (CT) while DePaul and Oregon State and scheduled to face off at 5:30 (CT).