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Oregon State aims to make more history against Baylor

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Oregon St. gets past DePaul (2:28)

ESPN's Carolyn Peck and Pam Ward analyze Oregon State's win over DePaul to advance to the Elite Eight. (2:28)

DALLAS -- Oregon State senior guard Jamie Weisner recalls scoring 43 points once in high school, and it was a really big deal because … well, it was 43 points for a high school kid. It's self-explanatory.

Yet Weisner approached her college career-high 38 points Saturday against DePaul like it was a "yeah, that's fine, whatever" accomplishment, because there was something far more important on her mind.

"I was excited about scoring like that in high school, but now we've made it to the Elite Eight," Weisner said after the No. 2 seed Beavers' 83-71 victory over DePaul. "So however many points I had today doesn't mean anything. My team won, and we have a lot more we hope to do."

They'll hope to do it against No. 1 seed Baylor, which won Saturday's first regional semifinal here at American Airlines Center against Florida State 78-58. The Lady Bears also had a huge scoring performance in their game as junior forward Nina Davis had her second consecutive 30-point output.

So on Monday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN), it will be the top two seeds in this regional going for a spot in the Women's Final Four. Baylor has been there before, winning NCAA titles in 2005 and 2012, and also making it to the national semifinals in 2010. For Oregon State, a program that was more or less irrelevant for much of its history, this is the latest step into the big time: its first Elite Eight.

"It's wonderful, and I'm blessed to be a part of it," Weisner said. "My freshman year, we only won 10 games. So I've been on the bad side of it, and now I'm on the good side. The core of this group has been together for three years now, and we do it for each other. We always talk about inspiring people, and I think this group has been crushing everybody's expectations of Oregon State women's basketball."

Baylor started a similar process of program-building when coach Kim Mulkey took over in 2000, and she has constructed the Lady Bears into being the Big 12's best team and a perennial national contender.

That is a path coach Scott Rueck hopes to emulate with Oregon State.

"To overcome all those mental hurdles of believing that you belong takes a lot of courage," Rueck said. "You have to believe things that aren't really believable."

Now, Rueck and his players have made the dream into a real, tangible thing. They have a Pac-12 tournament trophy at home already, and are 40 minutes from another breakthrough.

But Baylor has been focused all season on not getting stopped in the regional final again. The Lady Bears have lost in the Elite Eight the past two years, both times falling to Notre Dame.

The year before that, 2013, Baylor was the defending national champion but lost an epic game against Louisville in the Sweet 16. The Cardinals were the No. 3 seed in this region this year, and might have faced Baylor in the Elite Eight … yet it never came to that. DePaul knocked the Cardinals out in the second round.

Then the Blue Demons did everything they could to push Oregon State on Saturday. But the Beavers had too many answers, and even DePaul's 11 3-pointers didn't bring the Blue Demons all that close to an upset.

While acknowledging Weisner's impressive scoring fireworks, DePaul coach Doug Bruno actually gave his own "key to the game" honors to Oregon State center Ruth Hamblin, who had 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. And she anchors the Oregon State defense, which is so important.

"I keep coming back to the presence they have in the middle," Bruno said of Hamblin. "Big is big. Seven-footers in men's basketball, 6-6 in women's basketball, is a great advantage."

Baylor also has size and depth, although not one specific center who has Hamblin's career numbers and experience. But the Lady Bears do have a player in Davis -- and another in Alexis Jones, who had 15 points and nine rebounds Saturday -- who can take over games.

Specifically in regard to Davis, Mulkey said, "I think it's the defense of the opponent that is allowing Nina to do some things. She has an unorthodox way of getting by you and making the craziest shots you will ever see. But that's Nina."

As for Weisner, there is nothing all that odd looking about how she gets her points. She's a fundamentally solid, very confident, cool customer, not rattled by whatever stage Oregon State ascends to, even if for the first time.

"I approach every game the same way: I'm calm and clear-minded," Weisner said. "I practice so much, so when it's time to perform, I'm ready. I feel like when my team needs a shot, I'm going to try to get the ball."