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Five questions for Beavers-Huskies

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Beavers center Ruth Hamblin blocks a shot from Washington guard Kelsey Plum during the first half of the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament March 5. The Beavers won, 57-55.

, and went on to win the Pac-12 tournament. But the Huskies, who earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, also have played their way into the Final Four along with the Beavers, Connecticut and Syracuse.

The Oregon State women’s basketball team will be underdogs against the unbeaten Connecticut Huskies in Sunday’s national semifinal game.

After all, the Huskies will be aiming for their fourth-straight national title.

For the Beavers to beat the Huskies, they’ll need answers to these questions:

Can the Beavers control the pace of the game? Connecticut likes to run, and usually can count on easy fast-break points. The Beavers will need to slow that down.

Who will step up for the Beavers? Oregon State can count on its big three players — Jamie Weisner, Sydney Weise and Ruth Hamblin. But the team will need one of its role players to step up and have a big game alongside that trio. Who will that be?

Can Ruth Hamblin stay out of foul trouble? She can dominate a game, but not if fouls force her to sit on the bench.

Will the Connecticut mystique unduly awe the Beavers? Connecticut is the dominant team in women’s collegiate basketball, but the Beavers need to set that aside at the opening tip. If the Beavers keep it close down the stretch, they could test the Huskies in a way they haven’t been tested this season. And in some ways, all the pressure in the semifinal will be on the Huskies: Can the Beavers turn that to their advantage?

Who will guard Breanna Stewart? Stewart, who has won the last two national player of the year awards, routinely dominates games — and already is on the short list of the greatest players ever. To paraphrase a sports cliche, the Beavers probably won’t be able to stop her — but can they limit the damage Stewart will wreak?


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