It was just a few games ago when Mikayla Pivec noted the third quarter was typically not one of Oregon State’s best.
That trend has certainly changed the past three games.
For the second straight game, the No. 17 Beavers found themselves trailing at the half.
And like it did in a comeback win over Washington on Friday, a strong third changed the momentum and sparked Oregon State to a win.
Down two at the break, the Beavers used a 22-10 edge in the third to take a double-digit lead and propel them to a 71-53 Pac-12 women's basketball win over Washington State on Sunday before a Gill Coliseum crowd of 3,884.
Kat Tudor had a career game, hitting seven 3-pointers on her way to 27 points for the Beavers (11-2, 2-0). Marie Gulich added 22 points and 14 rebounds for her fifth double-double in six games.
In Friday’s win, the Beavers used a 25-9 edge in the third to overcome a six-point halftime deficit.
The main focus at the break has been to relax.
“I think they’re finding basically their sea legs in the second half of the Pac-12,” coach Scott Rueck said. “That’s what they are figuring out right now: how they have to play, how hard it is, how quickly the ball needs to move and all those things that veteran teams already know.
“... We haven’t really had to make adjustments, it’s just relaxing and playing in the second half and they’ve done a good job.”
Gulich, a senior who has had plenty of experience in the Pac-12, said the extended time in the locker room helps the players regroup and get on the same page.
“In the first half there’s really no long break where you can focus with each other and just talk and calm down,” Gulich said. “The halftime helps us refocus, relax and then come out and just play our game.”
Down 31-29 at the break, the Beavers used an 11-0 run in the third to build a 12-point lead before settling for a 51-41 lead going to the fourth.
Gulich had seven points in the run while Tudor chipped in six in the quarter on two 3-pointers.
The Beavers held Washington State (7-7, 0-2) without a field goal from the 4:42 mark of the third until there was 5:25 left in the fourth to build a 57-43 lead.
Pivec picked up her second foul, a charge, with 7:38 left in the first and did not return until the start of the third quarter as Rueck chose to sit her the rest of the half.
Her absence was evident as the Beavers were just 3 for 17 from the floor in the first quarter and scored just nine points, a season low.
“Mik’s foul trouble hurt us no question and threw us out of our rotation a bit,” Rueck said. “I didn’t feel like we handled it as well as we should have so we were just on our heels offensively that entire first half.”
Chanelle Molina capped an impressive second quarter for the Cougars with a 3 to put WSU up 31-29 at the break. Molina had 10 of the Cougars’ 19 points in the period and finished with 13 for the half on 5-for-5 shooting.
Molina and Tudor waged a personal battle early in the second quarter. Molina had the first seven for the Cougars while Tudor scored the first eight for OSU.
Tudor had 15 in the first half, connecting on 4 of 9 3-pointers. The Beavers were just 5 for 16 from 3 and 11 for 34 overall.
Oregon State took an 8-4 lead midway through the first quarter but managed just one free throw the final 6:10 to trail 12-9.
Still, the Beavers were able to open Pac-12 play with a home sweep and will get ready to head to No. 11 UCLA on Friday before facing USC on Jan. 7.
“We showed a lot of resolve this weekend, a lot of grittiness and toughness,” Rueck said. “Marie really set the tone for us in both games from a competitive standpoint and an expectation standpoint. I thought the team rose to that which I was pleased about.”