BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Talk about a possible league crown isn’t taboo or off limits, just something the Oregon State players don’t really discuss right now.
Way too much work left to do.
Still, No. 7 Oregon State moved a step closer to its first Pac-12 title by beating Colorado 66-44 on Friday night.
“This is huge,” said Weisner, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds for her 10th career double-double. “We say every game just leads us to the championship, so every game is like a championship game for us.
“We know that’s our final goal. We have to take it one practice, one game at a time.”
The Beavers (24-2, 14-1 Pac-12) maintained a two-game cushion in the conference race with three contests remaining, including one at home next week against No. 18 Stanford. The Cardinal are the gold standard in the conference — and the defending champion.
That’s why Oregon State coach Scott Rueck tries to keep his team grounded in the moment, not looking down the road.
“Those things take care of themselves if we take care of business,” Rueck said. “And so that’s all we talk about — next possession is all that matters.”
Ali Gibson scored nine of her 14 points in the second half as the Beavers pulled away from pesky Colorado (11-15, 4-11) for their first-ever win in Boulder. With the victory, Oregon State matched the school record for most wins in a season. The team also had 24 wins a year ago and during the 1982-83 season.
“We just try to play our game every game,” Weisner said.
But Colorado prevented the Beavers from playing their style in the first half. Oregon State turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 10 times and shot just 33 percent.
It wasn’t until midway through the second half that Oregon State began to shake free from Colorado. That’s when the Beavers rediscovered their shooting touch and committed fewer turnovers. They went on a 20-8 run to gain some separation.
“We were a bit out of our element. Second half was a normal half for us,” Rueck said. “We settled down and did our thing.”
Sydney Wiese finished with 10 points and had seven of the team’s 16 assists. The Beavers entered the game fifth in the nation in assists per game (19.5).
Jen Reese scored 19 points and Jamee Swan added 13 for Colorado, which dropped its 16th straight game against ranked opponents.
“They’re No. 1 in the league for a reason. You can see why,” Colorado coach Linda Lappe said. “Such good balance — they’re tough. They shoot the ball well.
Oregon State led by as many as 11 in the first half, but miscues and missed free throws allowed Colorado to work its way back into the game.
That and the shooting of Reese, who scored all of Colorado’s points in an 8-2 run late in the first half. She almost gave the Buffaloes the lead at halftime as her shot at the buzzer hung on the rim before rolling out. The teams went into the locker room tied at 26.
Reese didn’t have as many open looks in the second half.
“They stayed tighter to Jen Reese, kept somebody pretty much glued to her,” Lappe said. “They keep coming at you. They have very good balance in their team. We knew that it was going to be a tough game.”
Oregon State: Until Friday, the Beavers were 0-4 in Boulder, including two losses as a member of the Pac-12. … Oregon State was picked to finish third in preseason conference polls. … The Beavers outscored Colorado 22-2 in the paint in the final half.
Colorado: There was a petting zoo set up on the concourse for kids, complete with a goat, hen and a rabbit. No buffaloes or beavers, though. … Colorado last beat a top-10 team on Dec. 14, 2012, at home against No. 8 Louisville. … The Buffaloes have played all season without junior forward Arielle Roberson, who tore the ACL in her left knee in fall practice. She led the team in scoring (12) and rebounding (8.3) a year ago. Roberson’s brother, Andre, plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Oregon State: At Utah on Sunday.
Colorado: Hosts Oregon on Sunday.