The No. 8-ranked Oregon State women’s basketball team hasn’t had much of a test in its first two regular season games, or its exhibition contest.
The Beavers won easily in all three of those games — 95-58 against Northwest Nazarene (exhibition), 79-54 vs. Cal Poly and 89-33 over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
That could change this Saturday when the Beavers welcome a Saint Mary’s team to Gill Coliseum that is 2-0 with wins over Wyoming (90-84 at home) and Pac-12 opponent Washington State (70-64 on the road).
The Gaels have five players averaging double figures, led by senior forward Sydney Raggio at 16.5. Sophomore guard Emily Codding is in at 13.5 and is coming off a 17-point game where she was 7 for 7 from the field against Washington State.
“Saint Mary’s is a big-time team,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “They are outstanding, extremely well-coached. It will have the feel of a Pac-12 game Saturday. That’s going to be great for us.”
Oregon State has been up to its old tricks early in the season. The Beavers have four players averaging double figures — Kat Tudor (16), Destiny Slocum (15), Mikayla Pivec (13.5) and Katie McWilliams (10.0) — and all 11 players who have seen action have scored.
The Beavers are also moving the ball exceptionally well, with 52 assists on 66 made baskets. Those assists have helped the Beavers shoot 49.6 percent from the field (66 for 133) and 40.4 percent from 3 (23 of 57).
Arkansas-Pine Bluff assistant Danny Evans, who was an assistant at Oregon State for five seasons in the early 1990s, told Rueck he was impressed by the Beavers’ spacing on Wednesday.
“I think we’re on par, I think we can potentially be the best, I don’t know,” Rueck said of the ball movement. “The sky’s the limit for this group. As much experience on the perimeter as we’ve ever had and ability as well ... I think we will get better and better as (we) go.”
Rueck has been able to work in 11 players — freshman Andrea Aquino has yet to play; Rueck said before the first game she is out with no timetable to return — and continue to see what combinations work best at different parts of games.
He said that’s what the nonconference schedule is about and he isn’t concerned about figuring it out sooner than later. He noted they made some tweaks even going into the NCAA tournament last season and the Beavers reached the Elite Eight.
“I don’t think there’s a time where it’s like OK, we’ve got it,” he said. “I think it will just evolve as we go. It could evolve into January.”
Each game situation will help in the process as there is more to be learned in that atmosphere compared to practice.
Still, Rueck has been able to glean plenty up to this point.
“What I’ve learned is this team is going to compete like crazy and we have a long ways to go,” he said. “… This team is going to reach its potential this year. They show all the signs of a great team.”