PULLMAN, Wash. – Resilient.
That’s the word Scott Rueck used to describe the No. 7 Oregon State women’s basketball team’s performance on Sunday.
“We used up every ounce of that today,” he said. “That’s what it took to get this win.”
The Beavers found themselves down 21-5 less than 7 minutes into their game against Washington State.
But instead of panicking, OSU made a defensive adjustment, then the Beavers kept battling before eventually taking the lead and earning a hard-fought 61-56 Pac-12 win over the Cougars.
Thanks to California’s 50-49 win at Arizona State, the Beavers (21-2, 11-1) are a game ahead of both the Bears and Sun Devils in the Pac-12 standings with six games to play.
Early it looked like the Beavers were still a bit shaken from their 76-67 loss at Washington on Friday that ended a 10-game winning streak.
Oregon State fell behind 21-5 with just over 13 minutes to play in the first half as Washington State (13-10, 4-8) started on fire, hitting 10 of its first 14 field goals.
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“What an incredible performance by them,” Rueck said. “They came out on fire. I don’t know if we completely had our edge, but my goodness they took advantage of everything and they did whatever they wanted to start this game and we had to scrap back.”
Sydney Wiese, who led the Beavers with 16 points, said the team may have had a bit of a hangover from Friday’s loss.
“We were a little shaky, we weren’t ourselves,” she said. “It didn’t feel like we were in a flow out there. But then we came together, hit a few shots and we were reminded of who we really were and what we’re trying to do and I think this is a huge win for us.”
The Beavers got within 31-30 at the half but it wasn’t until Wiese’s fourth 3-pointer of the game that they took their first lead.
Wiese’s triple with 11:55 left tied Felicia Ragland’s career mark of 178 and gave the Beavers a 40-39 advantage.
The Beavers led by as many as seven, with 3:54 to play, but it wasn’t until Samantha Siegner hit two free throws with 8 seconds left that the Beavers were able to secure the win.
“I think it says a lot about our team coming back and just fighting like that all game,” Wiese said.
The biggest key came in the first half when the Beavers switched from their man-to-man defense and went zone, something they don’t play often.
It paid dividends as the Cougars were just 4 for their last 17 after staring 10 for 14.
“That was the game. That’s the only reason we got back in it, I thought,” Rueck said. “… It looked like they were out in their driveway having fun shooting the ball and it was going down for them.
“We haven’t used it a lot this year. I was really proud of the way the team executed it and adapted to what they were doing. Then our man defense took us home down the stretch.”
The Beavers closed the first half on a 9-0 run and didn’t allow the Cougars to score the final 6:21 of the half. The Cougars missed their last eight field goals in the half.
Lia Galdeira, who led the Cougars with 23 points, didn’t play during that stretch as she picked up her second foul with 6:34 to play.
Wiese led four Beavers in double figures with her 16 points. Jamie Weisner added 14, Deven Hunter 12 and Ruth Hamblin 10.
Hunter, who didn’t score in the first meeting against the Cougars, a 73-70 OSU win in which the Beavers rallied from down 16 in the second half, also had 11 rebounds.
Galdeira had 23 for the Cougars and Mariah Cooks added 10. But WSU was just 13 for 57 after starting 10 for 14.
The Beavers meet Arizona State on Friday at 6 p.m. in Gill Coliseum. OSU won the first meeting in Tempe, 68-57.