A 35-point blowout loss.

Watching a 17-point second-half lead vanish in another loss.

For a program that is accustomed to winning, and winning a lot, one might think a bit of panic might set in with those back-to-back decisions.

While there was plenty of frustration after last weekend’s disappointing road trip to Los Angeles, the Oregon State women’s basketball team has kept an even-keel approach to the task at hand.

“You never want to lose two games in a row but (it’s) just learning experiences,” junior guard Katie McWilliams said Wednesday morning. “I know that we’re going to be focused these next couple days in practice and we’re going to be excited to play the Arizona schools and moving forward in the Pac-12.”

The No. 22 Beavers will look to end the longest losing streak in four years when they host No. 18 Arizona State in a Pac-12 showdown at 6 p.m. Friday in Gill Coliseum.

The Sun Devils (13-3, 4-0) are coming off a home win over Stanford on Sunday.

Coach Scott Rueck has tried to keep things “normal” this week after the program’s first back-to-back losses since 2014. No player on this year’s team had ever lost two in a row.

“I think that’s just kind of how we operate,” Rueck said. “You can’t get too high on a win and you can’t get too low off a loss. It just is what it is.

“It’s an experience, it happened — whatever it was — and how can we take that experience and make us better. That’s how we’re approaching it and how we approach everything. Our job is just to remain the same and just keep taking steps forward.”

The players have talked more among themselves about the weekend, about what went wrong and what they need to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We just emphasized playing together and staying together because that’s the biggest thing,” McWilliams said. “We’re going to face adversity all year, and obviously that’s hit us early so we’re going to have to stay together and play as a team from here on out. That’s all we really have to do to be able to win games.”

Added freshman Taya Corosdale: “We were pretty upset about the losses so we all came together and we’re figuring it out together and trying to stay together and fix the problems.”

Rueck has liked what he has seen as far as responding to the losses goes. After losing to No. 14 UCLA by 35 on Friday night, he thought the team had a good day of practice Saturday.

The Beavers (11-4, 2-2) then played well the first 26 minutes of the loss to USC before letting the game slip away.

“I think everybody had a good day on Monday, just regrouping,” he said. “(Tuesday) our team meeting was great and then practice was great, responded well.

“I think we know we’re a work in progress, we’ve got a lot of youth out there. Those are two tough games and tough opponents, veteran teams. They played with composure and we didn’t.

“We know we’ve got to get better and I think this team is determined to continue to work.”

The biggest area the Beavers must improve is not turning the ball over as much. Oregon State had 48 combined turnovers — 27 at USC — and gave up 59 points combined off turnovers for the weekend.

“We don’t really have one of those true point guards that is used to handling the ball up in the front court and getting the offense started, so I mean a little inexperience there but it’s no excuse,” McWilliams said. “We just need to keep working on it and being able to handle that pressure because it’s going to be every game.”

Rueck said the Beavers will look to do some things schematically to help the players find more success against teams that like to apply pressure.

That could include incorporating more screens and using the post players differently.

Rueck said he spent Wednesday morning watching film with his guards.

“It’s just an awareness and a knowledge of how to handle this and it comes through experience unfortunately, and sometimes a hard experience,” he said. “There’s a lot to learn and the first time through on the road, the Pac-12 is tough and the road is tough.

“Tough lessons but we’ll be better for it and we respond to adversity very well and so far so good. They’re wanting to watch film, they’re not shying away from it. They know we’ve got to get better and they’re more than willing to.”

There were bright spots over the weekend, and maybe the biggest was seeing some leadership stepping to the forefront.

“Probably the silver lining to all this is that leadership is emerging at a higher rate, and everybody is understanding very clearly what it takes every night in this league,” Rueck said.


Sports Editor

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

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