- Associated Press - Saturday, March 15, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Lexi Bando scored 29 points and Willamette capped a dominant season with a 63-54 win over Corvallis in the OSAA Class 5A girls basketball championship game Saturday night.

The Gonzaga-bound Bando went 7-of-16 from the floor and 14-of-14 from the free throw line.

Willamette (26-1) won its second consecutive state title, and fourth since 2007. The Wolverines were unmatched in 5A this season, losing only to Class 6A finalist South Medford. Corvallis was the only team to lose to Willamette by less than double figures. The Wolverines won their games by an average margin of 28 points.

“Lot of pressure. Everybody said you’re going to win the state championship. It’s hard on the kids. Hard on me, too,” Willamette coach Paul Brothers said. “I’m enjoying it. It’s the fourth one we’ve got, and it never gets old.”

Corvallis’ Leslie Robinson matched Bando, as the senior forward had 29 points and eight rebounds. Robinson, the daughter of Oregon State men’s basketball coach Craig Robinson, scored 10 points during the third quarter and 17 during the second half.

Corvallis (22-5) was playing in its first-ever state championship game.

“It was two really good basketball players going against each other and they both had fantastic games tonight,” Brothers said of Bando and Robinson.

This game figured to be an uphill battle for Corvallis, as the Spartans lost to Willamette 64-42 in early January.

It started that way, as Willamette ran off 10 consecutive points early in the first quarter to take a 12-2 lead. By quarter’s end, the Wolverines led 16-8.

“We’ve done that a lot this year, getting out to pretty good leads. It was nice to do that. Corvallis, first time being here, probably was nervous. Getting off to a hot start helped,” Brothers said.

Bando and Robinson often traded baskets during the second quarter, as Willamette increased its lead to 33-16 at halftime.

Willamette led by as many as 19 points early in the third quarter when Robinson began to fuel a Corvallis comeback. Robinson scored eight consecutive points to cut the deficit to 42-31 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

Robinson continued to score during the fourth quarter, but Willamette always had an answer. Robinson hit a short jumper and two free throws to pare the deficit to 51-42, but Bando came back with a layup to return the margin to double digits.

Corvallis never got closer than seven points the rest of the game.



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