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Oregon State and UConn take different paths to Final Four

INDIANAPOLIS – Ruth Hamblin and Jamie Weisner had a goal when they came to Oregon State four years ago: get the team to the Final Four.

Mission accomplished.

“We’re small-town kids, we’re dreamers, and we worked hard, and it’s cool to see how far that’s come,” Hamblin said. “But we definitely had the vision.”

Now that the pair has helped the Beavers to the school’s first national semifinals, they’ll try to keep it going. That might be a tall task. The Beavers will face top-seeded UConn on Sunday night in the first semifinal game. The Huskies have won three straight national championships, 73 consecutive games, and have looked nearly unbeatable. Oregon State has noticed from across the country.

“It’s hard to miss them. They’re on ESPN all the time,” said Weisner, a Spokane native and Clarkston High School graduate. “It’s legendary. I would say it’s even an honor to play against them. In 20 years I can tell my kids that I played against that UConn team.”

Despite the praise, the Beavers aren’t intimidated by UConn.

“I think it’s a mental thing, just like you can’t lose the game before you step foot on the court,” Hamblin said. “You just got to know that they’re humans and they’re going to make mistakes. And every team is beatable if you play the right way. You know they’re not invincible.”

UConn has looked close to perfect over the past two seasons. Every victory has been by double digits and most of the time the starters are sitting for the fourth quarter. The Huskies are on record pace, having won by an average of 40 points.

They stand two victories away from completing an unprecedented feat with four consecutive titles. While the Beavers seniors wanted to just make a Final Four, Breanna Stewart had loftier goals. She said she wanted to win four championships.

“I want to go out and finish this thing off,” Stewart said. “I want to finish my career off on the greatest note, and the same thing with the other seniors.”


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