CORVALLIS, Oregon -- For the third time in five days, a projected No. 1 seed in women's college basketball was upset. No. 12 Oregon State avenged Friday's loss at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene by knocking off No. 2 Oregon 67-62 at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis on Monday.
The schools are about 50 miles apart and meet annually in the "Civil War," a decades-old rivalry that started between the Oregon and Oregon State football teams in 1894. The women's basketball series isn't that old, but it has turned into a phenomenon in the state, with 12,364 fans at Friday's game and 9,301 Monday. Both were sellouts in their respective buildings.
"We're both really good teams, and I think we treated our fans to two outstanding games," said Oregon coach Kelly Graves, who is just 2-8 against Oregon State with the Ducks. "Maybe one of these days I'll get these guys here."
Oregon State coach Scott Rueck began his amazing salvage job in 2010-11, when the Beavers seemed light years away from being competitive. But he has transformed the women's hoops program at his alma mater.
So far this season, he has led the Beavers to a 21-5 overall record (11-3 in the Pac-12) after losing post player Marie Gulich to graduation after last season (she's now with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury) and junior guard Kat Tudor to a knee injury on Jan. 4 in the Beavers' Pac-12 opener against Washington State.
"It was the battle that you would expect it to be," said Rueck, who earned his 200th victory at Oregon State. "Incredible atmosphere. I'm so proud of this team taking strides forward. They're rising to each challenge that's in front of them."
The Ducks are winless in Corvallis since 2010; Graves took over in the 2014-15 season. Yet for as much as the loss stung, Graves was more worried about the loss of junior forward Ruthy Hebard, the Ducks' leading rebounder and third-leading scorer.
Hebard went down hard after getting an offensive rebound with 6:44 left in the second quarter. She appeared to injure her right knee and did not return to the game.
"Don't know; doesn't look good," Graves said after the game when asked about her status. "I don't know the severity."
Oregon had won 17 straight games since losing to Michigan State on Dec. 9, but even without Hebard, the Ducks took the game down to the wire.
They trailed by as many as eight in the third quarter, but sophomore Satou Sabally stepped up, scoring nine points in the third quarter to close the gap. Oregon State held on to the lead, 50-48, heading into the fourth quarter.
With 6:19 left, Sabrina Ionescu's jumper put the Ducks up 52-50. But with 5:09 left, Ionescu missed a breakaway layup, which ended up being costly.
Oregon State took a 54-52 lead on Destiny Slocum's jump shot in the lane, followed by her 3-pointer that put the Beavers up 57-52.
That prompted an Oregon timeout, setting up a frantic final 1:50 of the game, in which the Beavers sealed the victory by going 8-for-8 from the foul line. Ionescu, who led Oregon with 21 points, made some big plays including a step-through layup with 11 seconds left, and three free throws after being fouled behind the arc by Oregon State's Aleah Goodman.
But Goodman came up with a defensive gem after that. Slocum made two free throws to give Oregon State a 65-62 lead with 6 seconds left, and Oregon could have tied it with a 3-pointer. But the Ducks never got the chance; Goodman pressured Ionescu and forced a traveling call before she'd even gotten the ball out of the backcourt.
"I knew we had one foul to give," said Goodman, who led Oregon State with 22 points. "So I knew if I ran up on her, either a foul would be called - which was fine - or a travel would be called."
That's the kind of smart defensive execution that the Beavers have become known for under Rueck, who led them to the 2016 women's Final Four. Oregon State lost to UConn by 29 points in the national semifinals that year, a result Rueck acknowledged felt "inevitable" against a Huskies team led by Breanna Stewart that proved invincible.
This season, though, no team seems unbeatable. The NCAA selection committee released its projected top 16 seeds on Feb. 11. A week later, three of them -- Mississippi State, Louisville and Oregon -- have lost.
"There are so many great teams, well-coached teams," Rueck said. "Connecticut getting beat (at the Final Four) the last couple of years, that's given a lot of people hope. You want to believe that you have a chance. Not only does that impact the players, it impacts the coaches, too. There is hope. Everybody feels like they have a chance."