Scott Rueck loves playing doubleheaders.
When Rueck was coaching at George Fox, his women’s teams typically played at the same location as the men, and Oregon State’s eighth-year coach said it “was a blast because you get to support each other and fans get to come out and enjoy both games.”
On Saturday night, Rueck will return to his roots as the Beavers' men’s and women’s teams will play back-to-back games at Portland’s Moda Center in the Dam Classic.
The 17th-ranked women’s team will kick things off at 5 p.m. against UC Santa Barbara, while the men will tip off around 7:30 p.m. against St. Louis.
“It’s an ideal situation for Beaver fans,” Rueck said. “I’m really pleased our administration and everyone involved figured out a way to make it possible for us to play back to back like this because I think we can benefit from each other.”
Getting to Portland to play games is a high priority for both programs.
“This is the first opportunity with the men that has worked out for our schedule so we jumped on it. Why not?” Rueck said. "There’s no negative to that. Playing in the Moda Center is going to be great.”
It’s been quite some time since sophomore point guard Mikayla Pivec has seen an NBA game at Moda, so she is looking forward to the experience.
“The last time I was there was for a (Seattle) Sonics game with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, so it’s been a while,” she said.
The Sonics left Seattle for Oklahoma City to become the Thunder prior to the 2008-09 season.
Saturday's game will wrap up a busy week for the women’s team, which has cruised to blowout home wins against San Jose State (110-62 on Sunday) and Savannah State (84-36 on Wednesday).
“This is a great week,” Rueck said. “Three-game weeks are fun and to finish it up there with our fan base behind us is a great way to finish the week.”
Oregon State men’s coach Wayne Tinkle says getting to Portland to show appreciation for the fan base in that area is a big reason for playing there.
The Beavers (7-3) have played two games at Moda Center each of the past two seasons. They swept Cal State Fullerton and Tulsa in December 2015 and lost to Long Beach State and Portland in 2016.
“It’s getting harder and harder to find opponents to come and do that,” Tinkle said. “We’ve got to not necessarily sell our souls, but it’s a neutral-site game for us, even though we know we’re having a great crowd. But then, in return, we’re playing on their campus.”
The Beavers made a return trip to Tulsa last season.
OSU also played at the University of Portland in Tinkle’s first season in December 2014. The Beavers won that game in overtime.
Oregon State has scheduled Texas A&M as next year’s opponent in Portland.
“St. Louis is going to be a good game. The doubleheader with the gals, it’s going to be really exciting for all of Beaver Nation to come out and support,” Tinkle said. “It’s big for us, it’s big for our program, it’s big for recruiting. We know we’re going to make this state a major part of our recruiting efforts. To be there and play in that city is going to be key for us year after year.”
The Moda Center experience will be a new one for freshman guard Ethan Thompson.
He competed in NBA arenas in Los Angeles and Sacramento as a high school player.
“I think it’s going to be a real fun atmosphere.” Thompson said. “It should be a lot of people. I haven’t played in the Moda Center yet but I’m looking forward to it.”