DALLAS (AP) Sydney Wiese scored 18 points, including three free throws in the final 33 seconds and Oregon State advanced to the women’s Final Four for the first time after a 60-57 victory over Baylor on Monday night.
The Lady Bears (36-2) finished their season with a regional final lost for the third consecutive season.
Oregon State (32-4) is going to Indianapolis to face three-time defending national champion UConn after eliminating the six-time defending Big 12 champions.
Jamie Weisner, the Pac-12 Player of the Year who was the regional Most Outstanding Player, had 16 points while Ruth Hamblin had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Beavers – playing in their first regional final.
Alexis Jones had 19 points for top-seeded Baylor, while Kalani Brown had 12 and Nina Davis 11. Nina Johnson, the senior point guard, had only one assist with seven rebounds in her final chance to get to a Final Four.
With a roster filled with seniors and juniors recruited by coach Scott Rueck, the Beavers were in a regional final nearly six years after he had to conduct open tryouts to fill his first roster.
Oregon State has won 22 of its past 23 games and has already set a school record for victories this season. They won the Pac-12 Tournament and shared the regular-season title, after last season winning the crown outright to end Stanford’s run of 14 championships in a row.
“I don’t know how you put this into words,” Rueck said after getting the championship trophy.
Weise made her second free throw after being fouled by Jones with 33 seconds left. Jones had a turnaround jumper that rattled around the rim without falling with 11 seconds left.
Hamblin, the 6-foot-6 center from Canada, grabbed the rebound and got the ball to Weise, who was fouled with 7.3 seconds left.
After Weise made both free throws, Baylor quickly got back down the court. Jones couldn’t get off a shot, and Johnson’s 3-pointer missed the mark.
Baylor led only twice, after scoring the game’s first four points and when Davis made a layup with 6:54 left to put Baylor up 51-50.
The game’s only four ties came after that, the first when Weisner made a free throw 24 seconds later.
The Beavers were tough and resilient throughout, and there was a point midway through the second quarter when Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was so frustrated after a non-call by the officials that she ripped off her gold jacket and flung it over the Lady Bears bench, drawing a technical foul.
Davis was almost knocked to the ground when missing a layup, and that was the boiling point after the coach was already upset by several other calls or non-calls by officials.
Weisner made her second free throw after the timeout, and Gabriella Hanson made a field goal after the Beavers kept possession for a 26-18 lead.
The Lady Bears had cut the gap to 26-25 on a reverse baseline basket by Jones with 1:41 to go, but Oregon State scored the last eight points of the half for its largest lead of the game.
Wallace knocked the ball out of bounds under the Beavers basket with less than 3 seconds to go, but Weisner got open for a 3-pointer off Wiese’s inbound pass to end the half.
Baylor started the second half with its first 3-pointer. Alexis Jones made that one, and then had a steal that set up a possession when she made a fadeaway jumper that quickly trimmed a nine-point halftime deficit to 34-30.
The Lady Bears were within one after Khadijiah Cave had a 6-0 run all by herself in a 48-second span.
Cave had a put-back basket before an Oregon State miss. Cave then scored on a pass from Jones, and the 6-foot-3 junior Cave then stole the inbound pass and made another layup that led to a Beavers timeout with them up only 44-43.
Oregon St.: The Beavers missed their first five shots at the start of both halves. … Oregon State had seven 3-pointers, all in the first half.
Baylor: The Lady Bears’ most recent Final Four was in 2012, part of their 40-0 national championship. They lost to Louisville in the Sweet 16 the next season, and lost in the regional finals to Notre Dame the next two seasons. … Brown had a put-back of her own miss late in the second quarter, after a possession in the first quarter when she rebounded her first two misses before finally making the third shot.