February 22, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Oregon State can now add conference champion to a growing list of accomplishments in a historic women's basketball season.

The Beavers clinched a share of the Pac-12 regular season title and set a school record for victories in a single season with a 52-42 victory over Utah on Sunday. Oregon State can win outright with a victory in one of its final two games or a loss by Arizona State and Stanford.

''I thought we had a chance, but you never know,'' Beavers coach Scott Rueck said. ''This conference is so tough. It's such a grind. It's a marathon and to be sitting here with the record that we have is so rewarding. It just shows what kind of character this group has.''

Ruth Hamblin scored 14 points and Jaime Wesiner added 13 to help No. 7 Oregon State shake off a sluggish offensive performance. The Beavers (25-2, 15-1 Pac-12) shot just 38 percent from the field, but survived behind a strong defensive effort against the Utes.

Joeseta Fatuesi had 12 points to lead Utah and Taryn Wicijowski added 10 points and eight rebounds. It wasn't enough to help the Utes (9-18, 3-13 Pac-12) overcome its own offensive woes.

Facing the Pac-12 leader in field goal percentage defense, the Utes shot just 34.7 percent from the field and missed all six 3-pointers they attempted.

''We've seen what you can do when you have great defense and we've bought into it,'' Hamblin said. ''Every practice, that's the thing we rep the hard is defense. We go really hard on it.''

Fatuesi gave Oregon State a little trouble inside early. She scored layups on back-to-back possessions to help Utah jump out to a quick 6-2 lead.

The Beavers struggled to generate offense early, missing nine of their first 12 shots to open the game. Those shooting struggles soon proved insignificant to the drought Utah suffered later in the half. After a promising start, the Utes went just over 10 minutes without scoring. During that stretch, Utah turned the ball over five times and missed 10 consecutive shots.

Oregon State did not waste the chance to create a little breathing room. Samantha Siegner converted a tying layup and Ali Gibson followed with a go-ahead 3-pointer a minute later to spark an 11-0 run for the Beavers. Siegner capped the spurt with another layup to put Oregon State ahead 20-11 with 3:40 left before halftime.

''That's who we are,'' Rueck said. ''That's our identity. This entire (road) trip we've played outstanding defense - all 80 minutes. And that fuels our offense.''

Utah finally got on track offensively just before halftime. The Utes trimmed their deficit to four early in the second half when Tanaeya Boclair drained a jumper and converted a three-point play a minute apart to make it 26-22. Devin Hunter and Hamblin each scored on layups to keep Utah from overtaking the Beavers.

The Utes cut the deficit to four twice more and only trailed by five after Wicijowski hit a jumper to cut the lead to 37-32. That's as close as Utah could get the rest of the way.

Oregon State used an 11-4 run to shut the door on a comeback, culminating on a 3-pointer from Weisner that gave the Beavers a 48-36 advantage with 5:04 remaining.

''We just played more fundamental defense,'' Hamblin said. ''We made a couple of mistakes on how we were playing. But we took away those mistakes and got great shots on offense. That just helped finish it up.''

TIP-INS:

Oregon State: For the second consecutive season, Oregon State set a school record for victories in a single season. The Beavers won 24 games a year ago and have won 25 so far in 2014-15. . The Beavers lead the nation in defensive rebounds and rank 13th in rebounding margin. They outrebounded Utah 34-30, with a 26-22 edge on the defensive glass.

Utah: Wicijowski finished with six rebounds, moving her into fourth place in school history with 1,017 rebounds. She ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in rebounds with 9.1 per game. . The Utes are the 16th team Oregon State has held below 60 points this season.

UP NEXT:

Oregon State: hosts No. 18 Stanford on Thursday.

Utah plays at Arizona State on Friday.

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