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CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon State senior Gabriella Hanson said the Beavers faced uncertainty and were viewed as underdogs coming into the season, since several seniors and two stars graduated from last year's squad.
"To have all these changes happen and then get back to this point, that's what makes it super special," she said.
"We had no idea what we were going to get from people and what kind of team we were going to be, to be honest," added senior point guard Sydney Wiese.
But players bought into their roles and stepped up, and that includes Wiese, who has flourished as the team's go-to option.
Wiese scored 19 points and No. 10 Oregon State clinched the Pac-12 regular season title outright with a 71-56 win over California on Sunday. Marie Gulich added 14 points while Kolbie Orum had 11 for the Beavers (27-3, 16-2 Pac-12).
Jaelyn Brown came off the bench to score 21 points and Kristine Anigwe had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Golden Bears (18-12, 6-12).
"Oregon State played well. They make big plays when they need to and that's why they're the champs of the league," said California coach Lindsay Gottlieb.
Oregon State took control of the game with a 10-2 run after halftime that made the score 51-36. Gulich scored six points during the stretch.
California never got closer the nine points the rest of the way and trailed by as many as 19 in the second half.
The Beavers outrebounded California 39-22 and had 20 assists on 25 field goals. Oregon State started fast, making six of its first eight shots from the field and playing stifling zone defense to surge ahead 17-4.
The Golden Bears trailed by 16 when they went on a 12-1 run midway through the second quarter to make the score 33-28.
Oregon State led 41-34 at the break.
"Cal played a great game. They hit tough shots, they made runs at us. That second quarter, we took a big hit from them," said Oregon State coach Scott Rueck.
California: The Golden Bears were coming off a 55-49 win over Oregon that broke a four-game losing streak. . Brown, a freshman, made buzzer-beating 3-pointers at end of the second and third quarters.
Oregon State: This is the third-straight regular season title for the Beavers. Oregon State shared the Pac-12 regular season championship with Arizona State last year and won the title outright in 2015. . The squad's seniors, Wiese, Hanson, Breanna Brown and Orum, were honored before the game. . Brown, a redshirt junior, is graduating and weighing her options for the future.
BEAVER MILESTONES: With Sunday's win, Oregon State became the only team besides Stanford to win three straight Pac-12 titles. The squad also set a new record for regular season wins and is 110-24 in the last four seasons. The current senior crop seems sure to be the first Beaver class to play in the NCAA Tournament all four years.
FROSH STEPS UP: Gottlieb said Brown is playing her best right now, which bodes well for the future. "I think she kind of displayed everything she's capable of, which is knocking down the 3, getting to the rim, playing good defense," Gottlieb added.
Both teams will play in the Pac-12 Tournament, which starts on Thursday. Oregon State has clinched a first-round bye.
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