Marie Gulich vs. Davis

Oregon State's Marie Gulich goes up for a shot against UC Davis last season. The Aggies bring a 9-1 record into Wednesday's game against the No. 17 Beavers, who won last year's game 93-52.

Andy Cripe, Mid-Valley Media

There hasn’t been much intrigue after the first half in the past five games for the Oregon State women’s basketball team.

The No. 17 Beavers have held big leads and cruised to blowout wins over Nevada (89-49), Utah State (94-55), San Jose State (110-62), Savannah State (84-36) and UC Santa Barbara (74-49) to improve to 8-2.

With one game left before the start of the daunting Pac-12 slate, the Beavers expect to have a bit more of a test when UC Davis comes to town at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The Aggies are 9-1, but are coming off a 62-55 home loss to Central Florida on Sunday night.

Still, the Beavers expect a challenge from a veteran Aggies team that won the Big West regular-season title last season and reached the third round of the Women’s NIT before losing to Washington State.

“I’m excited to play somebody who challenges us and can show our weaknesses,” senior center Marie Gulich said. “Duke and Notre Dame were really good examples and really good teams to play, and I think UC Davis is one of the teams that can (provide) a good challenge for us and show us where we’re at and what things we have to work on. I’m super excited that we have the chance to have one more game like this before Pac-12 starts.”

The Aggies are led by 6-foot-4 redshirt junior Morgan Bertsch, who is averaging 21.3 per game and has been Davis' leading scorer in all 10 games.

Bertsch has seven games of 20 or more, with a high of 29 against Sacramento State, and is shooting 59.7 percent from the floor (95 of 159).

Senior guard Rachel Nagel chips in 12.6 points per game and junior forward Pele Gianotti adds 9.9 per game.

As a team, Davis is shooting 47.9 percent from the floor, has 200 assists on 292 made baskets and is averaging 77.3 points per game.

The Aggies opened the season with a 91-76 home win over Washington State on Nov. 10.

The Beavers entered the week leading Division I schools in field goal percentage at 53.5 with Gulich at an impressive 66.3 percent.

She also leads four players in double figures with 15.7 per game. Mikayla Pivec (13.4), Kat Tudor (13.2) and Taylor Kalmer (10.3) are also in double figures while Aleah Goodman is on the cusp at 9.6. Three other players are averaging 6.6 or more.

It will be the fourth meeting between the two schools with the Beavers winning the first three, including a 93-52 victory last season.

“They have the same team back and we played them last year and we did beat up on them pretty good, but they obviously have really good shooters and a really good post inside so it’s going to be a good test for Marie in there and our defense just to see where we’re at,” junior Katie McWilliams said.

The Aggies fell behind 39-18 at the half in the loss to UCF but rallied in the second half before falling by seven.

Coach Scott Rueck said the poor first half — the Aggies were just 6 for 26 from the field — was an aberration and he expects Davis to be at its best on Wednesday.

“It’s a great lead-in to conference play because it will have the intensity of a conference game,” he said. “You know they’re excited for it based on what happened here a year ago. They are a proud program that has had a lot of success and expects to win every night. It will be a great test for us.”

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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