Wiese leads Beavers past MTSU 55-36
SEATTLE (AP) There was very little Sydney Wiese wanted to say when it was noted that Oregon State won its first NCAA tournament game in nearly 20 years.
Wiese spoke plenty with a second-half shooting display that added another benchmark to the revival of the Beavers program.
”I’m pretty speechless about it. It’s an indescribable feeling,” Wiese said. ”We’ve been working hard all year. It was our goal to make the NCAA tournament. We weren’t sure if we were going to get some wins but it’s nice to get the first one.”
Wiese made six 3-pointers and the freshman scored a career-high 26 points, and ninth-seeded Oregon State stymied eighth-seeded Middle Tennessee State in a 55-36 win in the first round on Sunday.
She couldn’t miss for most of the second half and Middle Tennessee had no solutions for stopping her midway through the second half, when she hit five 3s in a six-minute span as the Beavers (24-10) blew the game open.
Wiese made 7 of 15 shots, had five rebounds and four assists.
”Any time you have a point guard that’s initiating the offense and taking the team under their wing like she did, even though she’s a freshman, she’s very, very talented young lady,” MTSU coach Rick Insell said.
She was the only Oregon State player in double figures, and the only player finding offense on a night scoring was hard to come by. Middle Tennessee was held to a season low in points and lost in the first round of the tournament for the sixth straight year.
”When you play good position defense like we typically do, it’s hard to knock shots down and I thought that played into it today,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said.
The freshman out of Phoenix was an all-Pac-12 selection in her first season in Corvallis. She was the key to a remarkable turnaround under Rueck.
He inherited an Oregon State team in 2010 with just two players on the roster after seven players left the program amid allegations of emotional abuse by former head coach LaVonda Wagner.
The program was in such shambles the athletic department considered suspending the program for a year.
Instead, the team forged on to just a 9-21 record in Rueck’s first season.
Three years later, the Beavers are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996.
Now they have their first tourney win since 1995.
”It’s amazing. It’s exciting,” Oregon State’s Ali Gibson said. ”We’ve been working hard. Hopefully it’s a foundation that we can start and keep getting more. We’re all excited. We’re all happy to be here and hopefully it doesn’t end.”
Ebony Rowe, the Conference USA player of the year, led Middle Tennessee with 17 points, but shot 7 of 23.
The Blue Raiders couldn’t overcome going scoreless the first five minutes and were playing catch-up from the very start.
Wiese made sure the Blue Raiders never got all the way back. Oregon State will face South Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Stanford Region, on Tuesday night in the round of 32.
She scored 15 of 17 points during a six-minute stretch where a nine-point lead suddenly ballooned to 19. Her fourth 3 during the run, from the top of the key and with no Blue Raiders in the vicinity, gave Oregon State a 44-28 lead.
She followed moments later by diving into a pile to force a jump ball that gave the Beavers possession, then hit another from beyond the arc for a 47-28 Oregon State lead.
At one point in the second half, Wiese had outscored the Blue Raiders by herself. Her previous high was 24 points against Oregon.
”My teammates did a really good job of getting me open,” Wiese said. ”They do all the hard work. I just have to bury the shots.”
Middle Tennessee shot just 23 percent and was 2 of 17 on 3-pointers. The Blue Raiders have not won an NCAA game since 2007 when they reached the second round as a No. 5 seed.
”We dug ourselves a hole and they did a good job controlling the tempo and keeping us out of it,” Insell said.