Oregon St. advances to Sweet 16 with 76-70 win over Gonzaga
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Katie McWilliams is going to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year.
The senior guard for Oregon State marveled at the four-peat after the fourth-seeded Beavers secured a trip to Albany with a 76-70 victory over fifth-seeded Gonzaga on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Next up is top-seeded Louisville, which defeated No. 8 Michigan 71-50 on Sunday.
“It’s pretty amazing. These teams that I’ve played with have been nothing but competitors and great groups of people,” said McWilliams, a local kid from nearby Salem, Oregon. “I am just so proud of this team and what we’ve been able to accomplish. And we’re not done yet.”
Mikayla Pivec led the way with 19 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Destiny Slocum, Taya Corosdale, Maddie Washington and Aleah Goodman each added 12 points for the Beavers (26-7).
Zykera Rice finished with 20 points for Gonzaga (29-5). Chandler Smith added 13.
Trailing 50-49 going into the final quarter, Gonzaga took a 55-53 lead on Rice’s layup, but Goodman got one on the other end for the Beavers to tie it with just over six minutes left. The teams traded baskets until Washington’s layup put Oregon State in front 59-57 with 3:46 to go.
After Rice tied it up again with a pair of free throws, Pivec made a layup and a free throw to give the Beavers a 62-59 lead. Chandler Smith scored for the Zags before Corosdale’s 3-pointer made it 65-61 for Oregon State with under two minutes left.
Rice made things interesting with a 3-pointer that cut the gap to 74-70 with 4.6 seconds on the clock but ultimately the Bulldogs couldn’t catch up.
“Against teams like Oregon State, the really good teams, you just have a limited number of mistakes you can make and tonight we unfortunately made a few too many,” Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said.
The Zags, ranked No. 16 in the AP’s final Top 25 of the season, were making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance, and third straight. The Bulldogs’ best finish was an Elite Eight appearance in 2011. They’ve made the round of 16 four times.
Gonzaga downed No. 12 seed Little Rock 68-51 in the opening round on Saturday. Katie Campbell had 15 points, hitting five 3-pointers while Rice added 18 points and six rebounds.
Oregon State’s first-round game against No. 13 Boise State didn’t go so smoothly. The Beavers, ranked No. 11 in the final AP poll, eked out an 80-75 overtime win, led by Pivec with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Washington said the game woke up the Beavers.
It was a reality check that ‘Hey, this could be our last game,'” she said. “It’s not like you lose and then you have practice tomorrow and you go and fix it. It’s win and survive, so I think really that reality check set in.
It’s Oregon State’s sixth straight visit to the NCAA Tournament. In addition to their four consecutive appearances in the round of 16, the Beavers advanced to the Final Four in 2016.
The Bulldogs were shaken in the West Coast Conference tournament, losing senior starter Laura Stockton and reserve guard Jill Townsend to season-ending injuries.
Jessie Loera started for the second straight game in place of Stockton, the daughter of Gonzaga great John Stockton, who watched from the bench in street clothes. Townsend was also courtside on crutches.
Both Townsend and Stockton were injured during the West Coast Conference tournament.
Afterward Washington celebrated on the court for a long with her dad, who she joked was almost more excited that she was. He traveled from Las Vegas to see the game.
“That’s not just my dad, that’s my best friend. He’s been through the ups and downs through the season and he’s always encouraging me,” she said. “For him to make the trip up and see me in person, it meant a lot.”
Gonzaga: The injuries were not the only blow to Gonzaga in recent weeks. Coach Lisa Fortier lost her brother to complications from muscular dystrophy on March 13. Fortier left Gonzaga’s bench in the final quarter of the team’s loss to BYU in the WCC championship game to be by his side in the hospital. The team wore HM patches on their uniforms with his initials, for Hayden Mispley.
Oregon State: The Beavers have hosted the first two rounds four times. … Oregon State fell in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament to Washington.
IN PRAISE OF PIVEC: Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said he’s pretty sure Pivec was “diving on every loose ball as a 3-year-old.”
“She’s as good as it gets, and she’s as impactful as a player there is, anywhere,” Rueck said.
Oh, and she’s smart, too. Pivec is a Bio-Health Sciences major.
HISTORY: As the 11th seed back in 2015 Gonzaga beat sixth-seeded George Washington before facing the No. 3 Beavers. The Bulldogs pulled off a 76-64 upset Oregon State at Gill Coliseum to advance to the Sweet 16, which was in Spokane. The run ended there with a loss to Tennessee.