TUCSON, Ariz. — Despite facing an Arizona team that entered Friday night’s contest against No. 12 Oregon State with just six wins overall and only two in Pac-12 play, Beavers coach Scott Rueck challenged his team to play hard.
He wanted the Beavers to learn from the last time they hit the road for a Friday night game — when they struggled at short-handed Washington State two weeks ago.
Oregon State had to rally from a dismal first half that saw them score just 13 points before slipping past the Cougars, 63-61, in overtime.
The message was received loud and clear.
Kat Tudor hit the first shot of the game and the Beavers never looked back in cruising to a 65-40 Pac-12 win over Arizona on Friday night.
Tudor’s 3 just 15 seconds in gave the Beavers a lead they would never relinquish in winning their sixth straight.
“I thought we moved the ball well early,” Rueck said in his postgame radio interview. “Kat’s 3 really set the tone for the team.”
Oregon State (22-6, 13-4) heads to Arizona State for a 1 p.m. tip to wrap up the regular season while Arizona (6-22, 2-15) will host No. 8 Oregon at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Beavers wrapped no worse than a No. 4 seed to next week’s Pac-12 tournament when the Sun Devils (19-11, 10-7) lost to Oregon earlier Friday.
OSU can finish with the No. 3 seed with a win over the Sun Devils or a UCLA loss on Saturday, as long as Oregon wins at Arizona.
The top four seeds have a first-round bye and play on Friday.
Marie Gulich finished with a game-high 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting and added 12 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season. She was the Pac-12 and Naismith national player of the week last week.
“We did a good job in general but we had some sets that we were able to free her up and get her good looks point blank and the team did a great job executing,” Rueck said.
Destiny Graham finished with 13 points for Arizona.
Katie McWilliams scored nine of her 11 points in the first quarter as the Beavers bolted to a 23-9 lead.
Oregon State was 10 for 17 from the field in the first quarter while the Wildcats were just 4 for 16 with Graham going 4 for 6 with all nine points.
The Beavers pushed the lead to 20 at 31-11 early in the second thanks to an 8-0 run with Marie Gulich scoring six.
Oregon State finished the half shooting 16 for 29 from the floor while the Wildcats were just 7 for 32.
Neither team scored a point the final 4:02 of the first half.
Gulich had 10 points for the Beavers while Graham had 11.
Arizona got as close as 39-25 in the third quarter before the Beavers began to pull away. They led by as many as 31 in the fourth quarter.
Oregon State dominated the glass, finishing with a 48-28 advantage, and had 18 points off the bench with Madison Washington chipping in six and Taylor Kalmer five.
The Beavers defense was solid all night and forced the Wildcats into two long scoring droughts of more than five minutes in the game.
Arizona finished 15 for 56 from the floor and was just 3 for 16 from 3.
“When we stop teams defensively it gives us a lot of momentum on the offensive end,” said Mikayla Pivec, who added seven points, seven rebounds and three assists. “… Our priority was defense today and I think we did a pretty good job.”