SEATTLE (AP) – Two weeks after Colorado was blown out at home by Oregon State, the Buffaloes pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Pac-12 Conference this season.
As improbable as it seems, the Buffaloes are one more unexpected win from playing for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Lexy Kresl scored 19 points, Jamee Swan scored 11 of her 18 in the second half and Colorado stunned No. 8 Oregon State 68-65 on Friday night in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals.
Jen Reese added all 13 of her points in the second half as the Buffaloes beat a ranked team for the first time this season and won against one away from Boulder for the first time since 2007. It snapped a 17-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
“We just played together. We had a lot of confidence,” Kresl said. “We don’t really view it too much of an upset because we knew it was something we’ve been capable of when we play well and we play together.”
Colorado (15-16) watched the regular-season champion Beavers erase a seven-point deficit and take a 60-59 lead with 4:21 remaining on Ruth Hamblin’s three-point play.
But the Buffaloes scored the next eight points and held Oregon State scoreless for more than four minutes. Swan gave Colorado the lead for good with her jumper in the lane with 2:38 left and Kresl’s backdoor cut for a layup with 1:05 left pushed the lead to five.
Oregon State (26-4) lost for the second time in three games and is now left to wonder what the late slide will do to its NCAA Tournament seeding. Hamblin led the Beavers with 14 points but Sydney Wiese and Ali Gibson combined to shoot 6 of 26 from the field.
“By the time we settled into a rhythm, they had already. They felt like they could win this game, and we needed to come out with a little different defensive mindset,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “We needed to dictate the game a lot more than we did on that end of the floor. I know that.”
Someone carried the Buffaloes for stretches of the upset. Kresl got Colorado started with three early 3-pointers. Swan took over late and Reese got hot when Colorado needed points early in the second half.
After trailing by five early in the second half, Colorado took a 56-49 lead with 8:32 when Reese converted a three-point play, hitting a fadeaway jumper while being fouled. Oregon State pulled within 59-57 after Deven Hunter’s three-point play with 5:29 left, and Hamblin’s three-point play with 4:21 left put Oregon State back ahead 60-59.
The Beavers missed two chances to extend their lead and Swan’s jumper in the lane with 2:38 left was Colorado’s first points in more than 4 minutes and put the Buffaloes up 61-60. Hanson missed a wide-open shot underneath and Jasmine Sborov’s layup in transition – her first points of the game – pushed Colorado’s lead to 63-60 with 1:35 left.
Wiese missed a 3-pointer with 1:25 left and Kresl scored on a backdoor cut to push the lead to five with 65 seconds left. Hunter missed another 3-point attempt and the Buffaloes hit three of four free throws in the final 40 seconds.
“We have a different focus level. We didn’t give up things that were easy to Oregon State all night long,” Colorado coach Linda Lappe said.
Colorado became the lowest seeded team to knock off a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in Pac-12 tournament history. The previous was a pair of No. 7 seeds – Oregon in 2002 and Washington State in 2014 beating No. 2 seeds.
Colorado: Kresl couldn’t miss to start. She scored 11 of Colorado’s first 14 points all within the first three minutes. Her 14 first-half points were more than she scored in 17 games this season.
Oregon State: The Beavers struggled with Colorado in their only meeting of the regular season. The teams were tied at 26 at halftime on Feb. 20 before the Beavers outscored Colorado 40-18 in the second half and cruised to a 22-point win.
Colorado: The Buffaloes will face California in Saturday’s semifinals.
Oregon State: The Beavers will wait to see where they are seeded for the NCAA Tournament, although being a Top 4 seed and hosting first and second round games seems likely.
– By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
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