Colorado stuns Oregon State

SEATTLE -- Don't call it an upset, Colorado says.

But it was.

Don't call them favorites, the Oregon State Beavers say.

But they were.

In the biggest upset in the 14-year history of the Pac-12 tournament, No. 9 seed Colorado beat the top-seeded Beavers 68-65 at KeyArena on Friday.

Now Oregon State, the team that won its first conference regular-season title, heads home after one game to regroup in time for the NCAA tournament. And Colorado, the team that finished with just six league wins and lost eight of 12 coming into Seattle, makes its second trip to the semifinals in three seasons because the Buffaloes played with more energy, more heart and superior offensive execution.

"I feel like we've faced a lot of adversity so far this year," Colorado coach Linda Lappe said. "We thought we could cause Oregon State to be able to see if they could handle adversity."

It was a pretty stunning loss for Oregon State, which beat Colorado by 22 points in Boulder only two weeks ago.

"It hurts," said Beavers junior center Ruth Hamblin, whose team lost to USC in last season's Pac-12 tournament final. "Coming in here last year, we made such a deep run and we know what it feels like. To have it shut down so early, it hurts a lot. The only thing we can do is learn and adapt and change our game and prepare for the next game, because that's all we've got at this point."

The Beavers (26-3) set the pace in the Pac-12 from start to finish this season and quickly went from being a team that could surprise the standard-bearers to being the one setting the bar. Is the role of the hunted still too new for Oregon State? Were the Beavers caught taking something for granted?

"It's a different perspective for sure," Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said of his team, the highest-ranked Pac-12 squad for most of the season. "But I don't think it factors in today. I really don't.

"I think from any perspective, hunter or underdog or favorite, I think it's foolish to focus on any of it."

As a No. 9 seed, Colorado became the lowest seed in Pac-12 tournament history to defeat either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The Buffaloes left most of the people gathered in KeyArena wondering where this team had been all season. Led by seniors Jen Reese and Lexy Kresl, Colorado came out confident and weathered Oregon State runs in both halves.

"We don't consider it an upset because we know what we are capable of," Kresl said.

Lappe said she feels as if her team has played its best basketball in the past few weeks, even if the scoreboard hasn't always shown it.

"At no point this season have we ever come apart as a team, even in tough situations," Lappe said "Ultimately you want to be playing your best basketball in February and March. We think of ourselves as a team that has more to prove. We haven't proved anything yet this year ."

In defeating the No. 8-ranked Beavers -- and earning a semifinal date against Cal -- Colorado snapped a 17-game losing streak against ranked teams; its last win over a ranked opponent was Dec. 9, 2007, at Vanderbilt.

Oregon State, which will go into the NCAA tournament with two losses in its last three games, shot 33.8 percent for the game and were a dismal 6-of-31 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"We are dealing with incredible shooters," Rueck said. "We got so many good looks tonight. The ball just didn't go down."

All five Beavers scores made their way into double figures -- led by Hamblin's 14 points, but it wasn't enough.

Rueck said the Buffaloes started the game with better energy than his team.

"It took us awhile to match it," Rueck said. "I thought we competed hard at times, but they made plays when they needed to."

The Beavers' NCAA fortunes are largely set. At 26-3 and with a Pac-12 regular-season title, they have had a good enough season to earn themselves a pair of home games in Corvallis to open the NCAA tournament, though their seed might not be what it was a couple of weeks ago.

"You have a choice to make this a positive or a negative. This group has always turned those situations into a positive," Rueck said. "These guys [Colorado] were fighting for their lives. Our team knows they've got another day to live. But no matter what happens, it's one-and-done from here on out. I think this is a great lesson."