Scott Rueck found himself with an interesting decision to make in the first half of Sunday’s Pac-12 women’s basketball game against Washington State.
Oregon State starting point guard Mikayla Pivec picked up her second foul just over two minutes into the game and went to the bench.
And there she sat, all the way to the final buzzer of the first half.
The Beavers were clearly struggling offensively without her, but trailed just 31-29 at the break.
Pivec returned in the third quarter and scored eight of her 10 points in the second half, while also grabbing seven of her 10 rebounds as the Beavers rallied for a 71-53 victory over the Cougars to start the conference season 2-0.
Rueck decided to keep Pivec on the bench so she wouldn’t pick up a third foul.
“If you can avoid it, I think it’s wise,” Rueck said of keeping a player on the bench with two fouls in the first half.
“At the same time, it was great experience for the rest of our team to have to battle through that. That’s kind of what I chose. I don’t want to bail them out, I want them to learn and adapt and adjust and play without Mik.”
Fortunately for Rueck, the defense and 10 offensive rebounds in the first half allowed him to keep Pivec on the bench.
Rueck said he thought the Beavers were too passive and didn’t attack the basket, as Pivec is known to do.
“She’s not the only person on our team that can do that,” Rueck said. “So I thought we were just looking around and waiting for someone else, kind of deferring in a way.
“I think we need to continue to see ourselves slightly differently at all those positions, all three guard spots, to where they can create a little bit better.
“I thought it was a great lesson for us and a great teaching moment going forward.”
Senior center Marie Gulich and sophomore guard Kat Tudor both had standout weekends.
Gulich had back-to-back double-doubles with 24 points and 12 rebounds (while adding seven blocks) against Washington and 22 points and 14 rebounds against the Cougars.
“Marie has been through all the wars, she’s been through everything,” Rueck said. “She knows what the Pac-12 is and she’s demonstrating that to her team (and) what it takes to be great every night, and sets the tone for us.”
Tudor had 17 points (15 in the first half) and was 5 for 9 from 3 in the win over Washington. She drained a career-best seven 3s and scored a career-high 27 in the win over the Cougars.
“Our team is just filled with great passers and they find the open player 24/7 and my shots were falling (Sunday),” Tudor said. “But the passers are who give you the ball and that’s the start of it.”
The two combined to score 90 of the Beavers’ 146 points (61.6 percent) over the two games.
“This team needed great performances and (those) two provided that,” Rueck said. “I thought overall we played well as a group this weekend. But they produced the numbers that we needed to be successful.”
Getting the sweep
The Beavers had to rally from halftime deficits in both games this past weekend. OSU was down 36-30 to Washington on Friday before outscoring the Huskies 45-27 in the second half for a 75-63 win.
Oregon State had a 42-22 advantage in the second half against the Cougars to pull away for the win.
“I wish we would come out better but it’s a learning curve and we are coming out in the second half and being able to lock teams down and showing what we’ve got,” Gulich said.
The Beavers will hit the road to face the Los Angeles schools with a showdown against No. 14 UCLA set for 6 p.m. Friday. The Beavers wrap up the weekend at USC at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Oregon State has lost the last two at Pauley Pavilion and suffered their only two conference losses last season to the Bruins (on the road) and Trojans (at home).
The Bruins split in the Bay Area, falling to Stanford 76-65 before routing then-No. 20 California 82-46.
“I think this weekend was great for us just to get a feel for it and for us to get to know the Pac-12,” Gulich said. “… I’m excited for the road games now and excited to play against UCLA and USC.”
Around the Pac
Oregon State was one of four teams to open the season 2-0. Also 2-0 are Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State. UCLA, Cal, Utah and Colorado are all 1-1, while Washington, Washington State, Arizona and USC are all 0-2.
The Beavers moved up to No. 16 this week in the AP poll, one of six conference teams to be ranked. Oregon is No. 9, UCLA No. 14, California No. 23, Stanford No. 24 and Arizona State No. 25.
In the USA Today coaches poll, only Oregon (9), UCLA (14) and Oregon State (16) made the top 25 with Arizona State, Cal and Stanford receiving votes.
Players of the week
Oregon swept the conference's player of the week honors with Sabrina Ionescu the player of the week and Satou Sabally the freshman of the week.
It's the third straight honor for Ionescu and fifth of the season after she set the NCAA career mark with her eighth triple-double on Sunday.
It was the third honor for Sabally.