Seattle, WA -- It started out even as the teams were running and gunning at the beginning of the game with so much intensity that you could feel how badly each team wanted the title. It looked a little uncertain as to who had it, until Oregon State's always impressive defense turned it up a notch.
One thing Oregon State knew to do was put pressure on Billings when she went to the low post. They pressured UCLA so much that their offense crumbled as the Beavers dominated every square inch of the floor. Their rebounding was undoubtedly on point during the first half collecting 31, 22 of which were defensive rebounds.
There was no discrepancy as to who was grabbing these rebounds, other than the Canadian Hammer. Ruth Hamblin grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half, grabbing the majority of the defensive rebounds as Deven Hunter was there to grab the offensive.
"This first half might have been the best first have we've maybe ever played. We were executing and firing on all cylinders, on both ends of the floor, we moved the ball so crisp and clean," said Oregon State coach Scott Rueck.
All eyes were on Sydney Wiese in this game as she was MALICIOUS from downtown. Wiese had three 3s in the second quarter alone, to contribute to her 13 points. It was clear Canada, and Drummer were getting frustrated with what was unfolding, getting extremely aggressive on defense.
Canada was able to get it in on the other end drawing a three-point play, but before anyone could blink UCLA was down by 15. One thing that really hurt them was their inability to get any buckets from downtown. In their last win over Oregon State they were 7-for-12, and in their loss against the Beavers, they were 1-of-4. This game they were just 3-for-10.
Halftime was UCLA's chance to regroup and regain some speed, but they just could not shake Oregon State's wrath. Hamblin came the third in with an array of low post jumpers, while Wiese grabbed her fifth three. By now, the Beavers were clearly unstoppable as the Bruins were down 31 points with Oregon State holding them to 27% shooting.
Hamblin was inhuman as she showed us why she was deemed defensive player of the year denying back-to-back UCLA shots with two huge blocks, tallying in a total of 5 blocks in the night.
UCLA really made the Beavers work for their shots in the fourth as they slowed the powerhouse offense down. Canada did what she does best: taking control of the floor, collecting 7 points in four minutes to bring the Bruins up a bit to a 21-point deficit.
The Bruins were not going down without a fight as Hayes and Korver took the wheel to close the gap even further to 16. All was still looking promising for the Beavers until Canada grabbed a huge steal. And with a technical foul on Weisner, Korver took to the line and closed the gap to an unthinkable TEN points.
"We did some uncharacteristic things, but man, momentum shifted quick. I don't even know how to explain it ...what I saw in the fourth quarter. And so give them credit for really fighting like crazy," said Rueck.
They outstandingly outscored the Beavers in the quarter 24 to 14, but even with renewed energy and a scare to Oregon State, the Beavers still had enough fight in them to close out the game with a CRAZY championship victory, grabbing their first in program history defeating No.3 seed UCLA 69-57.
UCLA head coach Cori Close spoke on Oregon State overcoming their adversity from last tournament to this year's tournament as something very commendable.
"First of all, my hat's off to Oregon State. They were the better team tonight," she said. "They earned it. Scott's done a great job with that program. As I was just walking over here, I thought to myself how they took the last couple tournament experiences, and turned the weaknesses that got exposed in that, into strengths -- and applied them to their championship run this weekend was really admirable."
Coach Rueck could not be prouder of his team, as the emotions of the night set in as he tried to explain the feeling.
"To be on that stage, knowing where we were just a few years ago, and to know the entire journey with this group, it's hard not to be emotional thinking about it. To see tears after this victory tonight is really the reason why I do what I do," he said. "This is an incredibly special group that deserves what they got tonight."
Ruth Hamblin closed the night with an out-of-this-world performance grabbing 23 points, 20 rebounds, and five blocks. Sydney Wiese had 21 points (15 from three's), and Weisner with 19 points, 5 rebounds.
Jordin Canada led UCLA with 17 points, 3 rebounds followed by Kari Korver with 10 points.
Congratulations to Oregon State on their very first Pac-12 Tournament Championship title win.