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07 March 2017, 12:43 | Simon Arnold
Oregon State Athletics
Freshman forward TJ Leaf is expected to return from a sprained ankle suffered Wednesday for UCLA's Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal game Thursday. "It's super satisfying. It's like tasting your favorite candy". "It's like tasting your favourite candy". According to ESPN's Women's Basketball Bracketology expert Charlie Creme, the Beavers needed to win the Pac-12 tournament to get a No. 1 seed.
On a day when the rest of the top seeds firmly held their grasp on their spots, Washington and OR promised to be a barnburner - a Pacific Northwest pairing pitting the veteran stars of Washington - Plum and Osahor, the nation's leading scorer and rebounder, respectively - against two of its brightest young talents in Oregon's freshmen duo of Ionescu (the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year) and post Hebard, the conference leader in field-goal percentage this season. This crown came thanks to a comeback that relied heavily on a stifling defensive performance and a huge lift off the bench from Smith.
Oregon State led 29-23 at the halftime and 36-34 heading into the fourth. Twenty points were scored from the Cardinal's bench - nearly all coming from Smith who led the team with 18 points on 6-14 shooting.
"In a lot of ways we have geared our team for the tournament". If you watched the game, you'd say that team's a top-10 seed or whatever the heck we would be. "I told our team we're a tournament team because of the depth we have".
However, Close remains confident that the Bruins will figure it out on the offensive end.
Stanford relied on a committee of scorers to get back in the game and take the lead.
Sabrina Ionescu stepped to the free throw line with 6.4 seconds to go, the OR freshman in a position to give the Ducks a one-point lead over 11th-ranked Washington in the hostile environs of KeyArena.
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Oregon State's Sydney Wiese and Gabriella Hanson both made their way off the court with their heads down after a deflating final three periods, plus a 10-point lead that evaporated quickly. "You just got to attack them, '" Smith said. "Whoever has the ball, they're going to make it tough for us to score".
The Cardinal were already down by 10 when Smith entered the game and scored five points to keep the game within 10 by the end of the first quarter.
Ducks freshman Sabrina Ionescu, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, cooly stepped to the free-throw line with 6.4 seconds to go and drained a pair of free throws. The Oregon State offense went from dropping 22 points in the first quarter to only mustering 21 combined points in the following three quarters.
"Nothing surprised me, to be honest". Washington coach Mike Neighbors said the Ducks played like they "needed it".
Meanwhile, Stanford won its 12th tournament title and its first since 2015. The loss shouldn't penalize the Beavers when it comes to NCAA seeding, but any outside hope of landing a No. 1 seed is likely gone.
In Crème's projection, the Huskies will host Big West regular-season champion UC Davis in the first round at Alaska Airlines Arena.
With conference tournament season upon us and the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, our friends at Bovada have released an interesting set of national championship odds for those that are into that sort of thing.
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