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March 25, 2014

WBB: Oregon State NCAA preview

Time: 9:40 p.m. ET
Site: Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA
TV: ESPN2 (Viewers in South Carolina and Oregon will see the entire game. Viewers in other states will see "whip-around" coverage. According to ESPN, the game will be on channel 721 on DirecTV and 146 on Dish Network. Check local listings.)

The Gamecocks look to punch a ticket to Stanford with a win over the Beavers. While the Gamecocks had to battle out a tough win over Cal State Northridge in the opening round, the Beavers cruised to a 55-36 win over Middle Tennessee.

Forward Aleighsa Welch took a beating against the Matadors. She was hit in the face and later turned her right ankle. Dawn Staley tried to rest Welch in the second half, but had to put her back in the game late to secure the victory. After returning, Welch got a key offensive rebound late and appeared healthy. She is expected to be at full strength against Oregon State.

Freshman guard Sydney Wiese was unstoppable for the Beavers in the opening round, nailing six threes on her way to 26 points. Wiese added five rebounds and four assists. An All-Pac 12 player, Wiese has made 110 three pointers this season and shoots over .400 from behind the arc. By comparison, as a team the Gamecocks have only made 125 three-pointers. Wiese also averages four assists per game.

"Any time you have a great point guard you give yourself a huge opportunity to win games," Staley said. "Sydney is a little different because she's long and has great court vision. They do a great job of putting her to utilize her skill set."

* In 190 previous NCAA Tournament Appearances, the Gamecocks have made the Sweet Sixteen four times, including once under Staley. They have made to Elite Eight just once, in 2002.

* Oregon State is making its sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and has never reached the Sweet Sixteen. The Beavers' last Tournament appearance was in 1996.

* With 13 points and 16 rebounds against Cal State Northridge, Alaina Coates tied the USC freshman record for double-doubles in a season with nine. The 16 rebounds were second most by a Gamecock freshman, behind only the 17 rebounds Coates had against Kentucky on January 9. Coates is averaging a double-double (10.7 points, 11 rebounds) in the Gamecocks' three postseason games.

* Oregon State brings a lot of size inside, with five players 6-3 and taller. The tallest is 6-6 sophomore center Ruth Hamblin who leads the nation in blocked shots with 133. In terms of team blocks, South Carolina averages 7.3 blocks per game, second in the nation, while Oregon State is fifth with 6.2 blocks per game.

* South Carolina and Oregon State have three common opponents this season: Florida, Clemson, and Southern Cal. South Carolina swept all three. Oregon State lost to Florida but beat Clemson, and then lost two out of three games against the Trojans.

Quick hits:
With four more rebounds, Welch will become the 15th Gamecock to grab 700 rebounds in a career… Tiffany Mitchell made 13 free throws against the Matadors, most by a Gamecock this season and fifth most all time… Mitchell now has 147 free throws this season, ten behind the all time record held by Martha Parker… Region host Stanford played and won Monday, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. The region's other three second-round games are on Tuesday… The Gamecocks and Beavers have never met in women's basketball, to the chagrin of frat boys everywhere.

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