There may not be a more potent offense in the country than the one the Oregon State women’s basketball team will face on Friday night.
And the No. 9 Beavers will have to see it back to back.
Oregon State heads south a few miles to take on No. 3 Oregon at 6 p.m. Friday in the first of two Civil War games — the teams meet at 6 p.m. Monday at Gill Coliseum — knowing it will likely need its best defensive performance of the season to walk away with a victory or two.
The Ducks are scoring a Division I-best 90.2 points per game while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, also the top spot in Division I.
Oregon is also first in 3-point field goal percentage (43.8), first in assist-turnover ratio, fourth in assists per game (20.0) and fifth in 3-pointers made per game (10.6).
With numbers like that, it’s no surprise the Ducks (23-1) have won 16 straight games and are still undefeated in Pac-12 play at 12-0.
They also have all five starters scoring in double figures and are coming off an 84-44 demolishing of No. 10 Stanford on the road.
“This team is extremely talented but now they’re so experienced,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said of the Ducks. “You saw the efficiency they played at this weekend and it just spoke to that.
"This is no longer the team of two years ago figuring it out or even last year kind of figuring it out. This team knows exactly where it wants to go with the ball, they know what they all can do, the small rotation or the smaller bench has, if anything, helped them because it’s made them more efficient because its given them all more experience.”
Sabrina Ionescu, a leading candidate for player of the year, is averaging 19.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.2 assists from the point guard position.
“You can’t say Oregon without Sabrina, you can’t imagine their team without her,” said Oregon State redshirt sophomore point guard Destiny Slocum, who faced Ionescu in the NCAA tournament in 2017 when she was a freshman at Maryland. “She makes people rise and get better and so I think in that manner she has done a lot to become not only a good player herself but making those around her good as well and elevating their program.”
Sophomore Satou Sabally is averaging 18 points and six rebounds, junior Ruthy Hebard is at 16.6 points and nine rebounds, Notre Dame transfer and redshirt sophomore Erin Boley chips in 12.9 points while senior Maite Cazorla adds 10.9 points and 4.9 assists.
So how do you defend that group?
“That’s a good question,” Rueck said. “You’ve got to be on point, you’ve got to be accurate and you’ve got to be tough as heck because it comes at you quick and every mistake you make they will make you pay, so you can’t make mistakes.”
Oregon State junior Mikayla Pivec said that while Ionescu gets most of the attention, the Ducks have several ball handlers who can create mismatches at times and run the offense.
“Whether it’s coming off the pick and roll and shooting it or coming off and getting it to Ruthy or Oti (Gildon),” she said. “They have a whole bunch of weapons so typically you can’t really lay off of one of their people or not guard them as much because they have so many strengths all around. So it really takes a team defense to try to slow them down.”
While the challenge could be considered daunting, the Beavers have helped build their program on playing great defense.
OSU is allowing 58.8 points per game this season and is 10th in Division 1 in holding opponents to 34.7 percent shooting from the field.
While the Ducks have received a ton of attention for their offensive production, the Beavers are no slouches on that side of the ball.
OSU is 17th in scoring at 78.7 points per game, is ninth with a 1.39 assist-turnover ration, eighth in field goal percentage (48.5), third in 3-point percentage (41.7), 18th in assists per game (17.3) and 15th in 3-pointers made per game (9.4).
Slocum leads the Beavers at 16.9 points per game while Pivec is second at 14.5. Aleah Goodman, who has seen more minutes with Kat Tudor (12.3 points) out for the season with a torn ACL, is at 9.8.
In Pac-12 play, Slocum is scoring 19.6 per game, Pivec 15.3 and Goodman 10.6. The Beavers have four other players scoring 6.3 or more points per game in Pac-12 play.
“We all want to have a team with five scorers and I think we’re obviously one of those, too,” Rueck said. “We’ve got a team that can score at five positions. It’s difficult to guard anybody that can do that.”