When Oregon State takes the court on Friday it will be just the third game in 20 days for the Beavers.
That game against Washington State will be the Pac-12 women’s basketball opener for the No. 11 Beavers, who enter with a 10-2 record and on a two-game win streak.
Coach Scott Rueck said he’s fine with the Beavers having played just twice since their trip to Hawaii ended on Dec. 15 with a disappointing loss to Texas A&M.
He’s also really happy with the schedule the Beavers have played, one that has included games against perennial powers South Carolina and reigning national champion Notre Dame, as well as Duke and Texas A&M.
While Oregon State has blown out a number of lesser-talented teams, including a 92-52 win over Cal State Bakersfield last Saturday, Rueck said those teams all presented challenges that the Beavers will likely see in the Pac-12 campaign.
“We’ve been tested by a lot of really good teams and a lot of good coaches that have played a lot of different style against us,” he said. “… (Saturday) was a great lead in to Pac-12 and I think we’re right in the right spot and I was pleased that we had time to put a game in after Christmas.”
While the Beavers shot lights out in making a season-high 16 3-pointers against the Roadrunners, there was at least one area that Rueck was not pleased with — 17 turnovers.
In all fairness, the Roadrunners entered the game averaging 12.2 steals per game.
“It’s still too many,” Rueck said. “We played against Duke with 10 and a couple of those, well a lot of those we could have cleaned up, so that number is too big in my opinion for our skill set.
“But credit them for doing things that we don’t normally see. They hung around and caused some trouble in the backcourt with outlet passes. (We) get a stop and here they are instead of getting back. They look to get the ball back.”
It’s something Rueck said the Beavers can expect to see this weekend. While Washington State has always been scrappy, the Cougars have a new coaching staff in place so Rueck had not taken a closer look as of last Saturday.
“But we know Washington tries to do the same thing that Bakersfield tried to do (Saturday) so this was a good lead in into that game,” he said.
While the Beavers did turn it over, they also made the Roadrunners pay when they didn’t by once again having tremendous ball movement. That led to a 16-for-35 performance from beyond the arc; overall the Beavers were 30 for 57 from the floor and 16 for 16 from the free-throw line.
“They try to turn you over, they made us make some mistakes,” Rueck said. “However, when you do take care of the ball and see the floor you’re going to get good looks and this team’s unselfishness was on display (Saturday), and our ability to shoot the three was outstanding.”
Rueck was also able to play the entire roster on Saturday with freshmen Jasmine Simmons and Patricia Morris getting a few more minutes than usual.
“The main reason is they’ve earned it, they deserve it,” Rueck said. “Some games where basketball is basketball, you can’t go real deep in certain games, just the way momentum can shift so quickly and we’re playing against such good teams.”
Simmons played nearly 15 minutes and scored two points while Morris had seven points and three rebounds in just over seven minutes.
“Jas has proven she can play in any situation to me and then Trish is, too,” Rueck said. “They’ve got the fewest minutes for us but they’ve produced for us, they’ve learned to play in our system and you can just see their confidence grow on both ends.”
Simmons said it's been a relatively smooth transition for her.
"I think every single day you get better and it’s not more difficult than I thought it would be because I knew how hard it was going to be," she said Wednesday. "You are surrounded by great people who want to help you get better so taking strides is really easy here."
The Beavers are in a much better place three weeks after that tough loss to Texas A&M that put a sour ending in their annual Hawaii tournament.
But the loss hasn’t been a waste as the Beavers have already begun addressing some of the lessons they learned.
“Rebounding or boxing out has been a big thing for us and I think we’ve improved in those areas already and that’s going to be a big emphasis going into the Pac-12 as well,” senior Katie McWilliams said.
Added junior Mikayla Pivec: “Against good teams especially we have to get off to good starts and we didn’t come out the right way against that team and hopefully in the future we come out the right way each game.”
On the Cougars
Washington State opened the Pac-12 season on Sunday with a 79-76 win at rival Washington.
Redshirt junior Borislava Hristova was nearly unstoppable as the 6-foot forward finished with 28 points on 16-for-24 shooting, including going 4 for 6 from 3. She was also named the Pac-12 player of the week on Monday.
Hristova leads WSU in scoring at 23.2 per game while guards Chanelle Molina (15.7) and Alexys Swedlund (13.2) are also in double figures for the season.