Oregon St women look to rebound against South Dakota St
Oregon State went from the high of winning the Pac-12 regular-season title for the first time ever to the low of getting ousted quickly from the conference tournament.
With an impressive resume overall, the Beavers (26-4) will still host an NCAA Tournament sub-regional starting Friday in Corvallis. Third-seeded Oregon State will open with No. 14 South Dakota State, followed by No. 11 Gonzaga against No. 6 George Washington.
Oregon State hopes to learn from the stumbles of the recent past. The Beavers had their perfect home record broken in the final week of the regular season with a loss to Stanford. The team was forced to put off its celebration of the season title until a victory over Cal in the finale.
Then, after an opening-round bye for the conference tournament, Oregon State was defeated 68-65 by Colorado.
Coach Scott Rueck said he hoped his team would learn from the roller coaster.
''Anytime you lose, you certainly need to look at things, no question,'' he said ''You have a choice of making it a positive or a negative. This group has always turned those into a positive. That's just obvious life lessons. So we've got to look at this and understand, hey, postseason basketball. These guys are fighting for their lives.''
South Dakota State (24-8) finished the season with an eight-game winning streak to capture the Summit League Tournament title and earn the conference's automatic NCAA berth.
Gonzaga (24-7) won an at-large bid after winning the West Coast Conference regular-season title, but, like Oregon, stumbled in the conference tournament, losing in the semifinals to BYU.
George Washington (29-3) set a school record for most wins in a season and claimed the Atlantic 10's automatic berth for the team's first appearance in the tournament since 2008.
Some other things to know about this weekend's games in Corvallis:
JONES JAMS: George Washington forward Jonquel Jones hails from the Bahamas, before she became something of a basketball prodigy at Riverdale Baptist High School in Maryland. Jones was named the Atlantic 10's Player and Defensive Player of the year, averaging 15.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. She averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in the conference tournament, earning MVP honors.
According to the Bahamas Tribune, Jones is just the third Bahamian woman to earn a Division I scholarship out of high school, joining Yolett McPhee-McCuin (Florida Atlantic/Rhode Island) and Waltiea Rolle (North Carolina).
OREGON STATE HONORS: In addition to winning the Pac-12's regular-season title, Rueck earned conference Coach of the Year honors and Ruth Hamblin was named the league's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Hamblin averaged 12.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, and ranked eighth in the nation with 111 blocks.
STREAKING ZAGS: Gonzaga is riding a bunch of streaks into the NCAA Tournament. The Zags are making their seventh straight trip to the Big Dance after clinching their ninth straight 20-win season and their 11th straight West Coast Conference regular-season title.
FAMILY TIES: Gonzaga junior guard Ellie Tinkle is the daughter of Oregon State men's basketball coach Wayne Tinkle, who took over the Beavers this season and led the team to a surprising 17-14 record after having to hold open tryouts in the fall to fill out his roster. The family came to Corvallis from Missoula, Montana, where Tinkle was coach of the Grizzlies for eight seasons.
UNDAUNTED JACKS: South Dakota State has faced Oregon State once before, back in 2004 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. The Beavers won 85-68. But the Jacks aren't letting that prior win, or the Beavers' dramatic rise over the last two seasons, concern them. ''It's not who we play, it's how we play,'' said senior forward Mariah Clarin, who is averaging 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds.