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No. 3 seed Oregon State heads back to the Sweet 16

Beavers head to Albany after beating Nebraska, 61-51

By ANNE M. PETERSON, Associated Press
Published: March 24, 2024, 5:07pm
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CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Talia von Oelhoffen had 19 points and eight assists to help third-seeded Oregon State advance to the Sweet 16 with a 61-51 second-round victory over No. 6 Nebraska on Sunday in the women’s NCAA Tournament.

Raegan Beers added 10 points for the Beavers, who will cross the country to Albany to face the winner of Monday’s second-round game between second-seeded Notre Dame and No. 7 Ole Miss in South Bend.

Jaz Shelley had 10 points and seven assists for the Huskers, who have not advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2013. She was the lone Nebraska player in double figures.

“I feel like we frustrated them a little bit, for sure. And it definitely worked out in our favor,” said Oregon State’s Timea Gardiner, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Alexis Markowski’s layup pulled the Huskers within 35-29 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Beavers responded with three straight 3-pointers to go up 44-29. Nebraska responded with a 6-0 run to get back within single digits.

Von Oelhoffen, who wore a sleeve on her arm with the word “heart” penned in magic marker, hit a 3-pointer that made it 49-35 for Oregon State with 3:46 left.

Natalie Potts’ layup got the Huskers as close at 59-51 in the final moments but ultimately Nebraska fell short.

“This is not how we wanted today to end, no doubt about it. I said before the game that if you had told us before the game that we would hold Oregon State to 61 points we would have taken it,” Huskers coach Amy Williams said. “I think we had a pretty good defensive game plan and defensive effort. But it was very difficult for us on the other end and it was not out best offensive showing of the season.”

The Beavers (26-7) beat No. 14 Eastern Washington in the opening round, 73-51. But the Huskers presented more of a challenge with 6-foot-3 Markowski and fifth-year senior Shelley. Markowski averaged 15.9 points and 10.6 rebounds heading into Sunday’s game. She finished with eight points and eight rebounds against the Beavers.

Nebraska (23-13) advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010 and 2013. The Huskers’ last tournament appearance came in 2022, when they lost in the first round to Gonzaga.

Nebraska let a 17-point advantage slip away but held on to beat No. 11 Texas A&M 61-59 in the first round.

Beers, a 6-4 AP third-team All-American, had 19 points and nine rebounds in Friday’s win but gave the Beavers a scare late in the third quarter against the Eagles when she fell to the court clutching her right ankle. She did not return.

She started against Nebraska but got into foul trouble, collecting her fourth late in the third quarter and heading to the bench.

“I knew they were going to key in on Raegan and they like to over help and kind of clog the paint, so I knew I was going to have to be aggressive and hit shots,” von Oelhoffen said.

Oregon State, vying for a return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2019, started strong, jumping out to a 16-4 lead in the opening quarter after Timea Gardiner’s layup. The Beavers led 19-11 going into the second quarter.

Dominika Paurova’s 3-pointer extended the lead to 26-13. But Nebraska rallied before halftime to narrow the gap to 28-21 at the break. It was nearly closer, but Kendall Coley’s jumper at the buzzer was waived off.

Nebraska was hurt in the first half by poor perimeter shooting, hitting just one of nine attempts. They finished with just four 3-pointers for the game.

“Playing from behind on their home floor is really difficult,” a teary Markowski said afterward.

Markowski opened the second half with a layup to get the Huskers within five points as both teams struggled from the floor.

“It was a chess match in in the middle,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “It was kind of two different games. The first quarter and the fourth quarter seemed great, and the second and third seemed weird.”

Attendance was announced at 7,227, a record for an NCAA Tournament game at Gill Coliseum.

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