Heading into this past weekend, the Oregon State women’s basketball team had plenty on its mind.
The Beavers were preparing for their final home games of the regular season, it was senior weekend for Marie Gulich and OSU was facing two teams it had lost to on the road early in the Pac-12 season.
And on top of that, it was a weekend that would be crucial in the Beavers possibly hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament, as they have the past three seasons.
It was a success on all accounts, except for one. At least at the moment.
The Beavers edged then-No. 7 UCLA 67-64 in overtime on Friday and then withstood a battle from USC for a 69-63 win on Sunday. The Beavers lost 84-49 at UCLA and 65-61 at USC earlier this season.
“I think we grinded so hard and we prepared so well this week for it,” freshman forward Taya Corosdale said. “Both of those teams are great teams and both are filled with athletes. We stayed poised and we played our game and I think that really showed and helped us win these games.”
As for Gulich, she delivered as she has all season with 49 combined points, 21 combined rebounds and seven total blocks, going 20 for 29 from the floor and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.
That effort was rewarded not only with two big wins, but also by being named the Pac-12’s player of the week for the first time in her career.
“Just really proud of the team, the effort,” Gulich said on Sunday. “I know both of those games were huge for us just because we had to prove to ourselves that we can play against pressure.
“It’s not getting easier from this point on and we will face teams who will pressure us and I think this is just huge for us just knowing and having the confidence we can face anything.”
On Monday, the NCAA selection committee released its final top 16 reveal and the Beavers did not make it, with Stanford grabbing the final spot. Oregon came in at No. 6 and UCLA at No. 10.
Still, sophomore guard Kat Tudor, who had 14 points in the win over UCLA and 17 against USC, said the weekend was a success and gives the Beavers confidence moving forward.
But there is still work to be done.
“I really think we’re on an upwards slope with how we’re playing and kind of fitting in,” she said. “We’re all knowing our role right now and it’s just working out perfectly.”
Corosdale had a solid weekend and came up big in the win over USC with 11 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two assists without a turnover in 36 minutes against the Trojans.
She hit three 3-pointers, helping to stretch the floor against the Trojans.
“I’ve been off a little lately so it boosts my confidence a little better just get the flow going and everything,” Corosdale said. “I’m just glad I could do it for the team.”
Said coach Scott Rueck of Corosdale’s play: “She really helps us by stretching the floor and knocking shots down. I thought the team moved the ball well, we knew they would probably help off her and in on Marie and they did and we found her and I thought she made them pay for that.”
Praise for USC
Rueck had nothing but good things to say about the Trojans, who had a tough road trip that saw them come up just short twice. USC also lost a double-overtime game at Oregon on Friday, 80-74.
That dropped the Trojans to eighth place in the conference.
“USC brought a great effort in and I’ve got so much respect for what they’ve done this year," Rueck said. "Coach (Mark) Trakh and his staff have done an amazing job. They go five deep, maybe six, maybe seven and they play with great energy.
“It’s really, honestly, inspiring to watch how that team has developed through the year and how well they play off each other so you know every possession is going to be difficult and they made it that way (Sunday).”
With Oregon’s win over UCLA on Monday, the Ducks (14-2) maintained their control of the conference race.
The No. 8 Ducks take a one-game lead over Stanford (13-3) into the final weekend, which sees them hit the road to face Arizona State and Arizona.
Stanford, a game back but holding the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed to the Pac-12 tournament, is at the Washington schools.
UCLA and Oregon State are tied for third at 12-4 with the Beavers holding the tiebreaker by virtue of a win over first-place Oregon.
Arizona State, two games back of OSU and UCLA at 10-6, is still in the running for a top four seed but needs to win out and get help.
In addition to Gulich being named the player of the week, the conference also honored Utah’s Tori Williams as the freshman of the week after she averaged 18 points and five rebounds a game in a sweep of the Washington schools.
The Beavers moved up three spots to No. 12 in The Associated Press poll, their highest ranking of the season. Oregon moved up to No. 8 while UCLA fell three spots to No. 10. Stanford dropped two spots to No. 16.
Arizona State, California and USC received votes.