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Oregon State trails early but wins 73-51 over Eastern Washington

Mar 22, 2024, 8:04 PM

Eastern Washington University NCAA Tournament...

Dominika Paurová of the Oregon State Beavers Jamie Loera of the Eastern Washington Eagles on March 22, 2024. (Ali Gradischer/Getty Images)

(Ali Gradischer/Getty Images)

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Raegan Beers had 19 points and nine rebounds before she was hurt at the end of the third quarter and third-seeded Oregon State advanced to the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament with a 73-51 victory over No. 14 Eastern Washington on Friday night.

Oregon State (25-7) will play the winner of Friday’s late game between sixth-seeded Nebraska and No. 11 Texas A&M. The winner of Sunday’s game will head to the Sweet Sixteen in Albany, New York.

Beers, who was averaging 17.7 points an 10.4 rebounds this season, fell to the court as time expired in the third quarter, clutching her right ankle and crying in pain. The 6-foot-4 forward was able to stand on her own and limped to the locker room. She later returned to the bench but did not play again.

Afterward, wearing sandals and no tape on the ankle, she said she stepped the wrong way. She added that she’d ice it later and would practice on Saturday.

Dominika Paurova added 17 points for the Beavers, who trailed early but took control of the game in the second quarter and led by as many as 25 points in front of a packed-orange-clad home crowd.

It was Paurova’s 19th birthday and her family was visiting her from the Czech Republic. She said it was her best birthday ever.

“I just came in, I did what I was supposed to do,” she said. “I feel like this was team-work, so I’m proud of my teammates and happy to play another game.”

Jamie Loera had 21 points for the Eagles (29-6), who set a program record for most wins and won the Big Sky conference tournament to earn just their second NCAA Tournament appearance.

“They were more aggressive coming into the second quarter and our response wasn’t what we wanted, Loera said.

With the opening-round win, Oregon State keeps its unexpected season alive. Last season, Oregon State finished 11th among the league’s 12 teams and they were picked to finish 10th this season.

But they wound up fourth in the loaded Pac-12, behind Stanford, USC and UCLA, in the league’s final season. Oregon State and Washington State, the Pac-12’s two remaining teams after conference fell apart in realignment last summer, will compete next season in the West Coast Conference.

In the last Pac-12 tournament, Oregon State fell to Stanford 66-57 in the semifinals.

The Beavers are making their 13th overall appearance and eighth under coach Scott Rueck. They reached the Final Four in 2016, the same year they won the conference tournament.

Eastern Washington was making just its second tournament appearance and first since 1987. The Eagles earned an automatic bid with a victory over Northern Arizona in the Big Sky tournament final.

Loera teared up after the game, reflecting on how the team made history. She hugged each of her teammates as they lined up to shake hands after the game.

Loera, the Big Sky’s player of the year, was a force from the start. Her reverse layup gave the Eagles an 11-8 lead in the opening quarter. The Eagles stretched the leas to 18-10.

At one point Jaydia Martin blocked the 6-foot-4 Beers and the Eastern Washington bench all wagged their fingers.

The Beavers closed the gap in the second quarter, tying the game at 20 on Timea Gardiner’s free throws before going ahead on Paurova’s 3-pointer.

Paurova’s layup capped an 18-2 run that put the Beavers up 28-20. Oregon State led by as many as 13 points the rest of the way for a 39-27 halftime lead.

“Ultimately today, it was what we needed to do,” Rueck said. “And it was a gritty and tough win.”

Eastern Washington University women win Big Sky title, headed to 1st NCAAs since ’87

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Oregon State trails early but wins 73-51 over Eastern Washington