Scott Rueck has been part of 192 wins in his eight-plus seasons as Oregon State’s women’s basketball coach.
Friday night’s 83-73 Pac-12 victory at UCLA may be one of his favorites.
Rueck spoke of the No. 10 Beavers’ courage in the face of adversity and resiliency of overcoming injuries, most notably the season-ending torn ACL Kat Tudor suffered last week.
“This team just demonstrated an incredible amount of heart and toughness and they followed the game plan to a T,” Rueck said of just his second win in eight tries at Pauley Pavilion. “And it was so beautiful to see everything in our game, in my opinion, take a step up. We talked about you’ve got to play beyond yourself at times because of the injuries that we’ve had. This team has to play at a level they haven’t yet. (Friday) they did.”
The win kept the Beavers (13-2, 3-0), in a tie for first in what is sure to be another highly competitive Pac-12 season. No. 5 Oregon and No. 6 Stanford are also 3-0.
Oregon State used a balanced scoring attack with four players — Destiny Slocum (22), Mikayla Pivec (21), Taya Corosdale (13) and Joanna Grymek (12) — in double figures.
“It shows how we’re able to adapt,” Pivec said of what the victory means. “I know without a couple of our big players, people have to rise and we saw that (Friday).”
With Tudor and Janessa Thropay both out, the Beavers switched a few things up on both ends of the floor, especially defensively, and they were able to execute throughout.
The Beavers had the lead for the final 26 minutes but the Bruins stayed close at times until OSU was finally able to put them away down the stretch.
"This win really shows that we’re able to finish down the stretch," Pivec said.
It was a much better performance than the two last week against the Washington schools, Rueck said.
“We had some not impressive stretches where we lost focus a little bit on both ends of the floor and it was choppy,” he said, adding that if that had happened Friday the outcome may have been different.
One of the brightest spots may have been the play of Grymek. The 6-foot-8 center made 6 of 9 shots for 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in 17 minutes.
“I loved what she gave us offensively as well as defensively,” Pivec said. “I felt like she got another gear (Friday), was impacting shots and got one really nice block out there.”
Added Rueck: “Those are huge minutes for Jo. She continues to get better and better.”
Oregon State, known for its 3-point shooting, showed it can win games without that being the main form of scoring.
Rueck knew UCLA would likely try to neutralize that part of the Beavers’ offense, so they took what was given.
“All game long I thought we did a great job attacking and Mik had 17 at halftime because they said go ahead and just try to beat us one on and we had to,” he said. “Mik’s a great one-on-one player, Destiny’s a great one-on-one player so those two created for us all night.”
Those driving baskets helped the Beavers, who were just 4 for 9 from 3, convert 32 of 57 shots (56 percent)
The Beavers also only committed 10 turnovers, and just four in the second half, after turning it over 21 times last season at UCLA.
“I just think our execution throughout the entire game was just really, really good and I think we can bring that to the next game and all the other games,” Slocum said. “There was a level defensively and offensively that we’ve reached that we kind of see ourselves carrying throughout the season and improving from (here) on.”
The Beavers will now face a USC team that has dropped five straight since a 10-0 start and is coming off a 93-53 drubbing by Oregon.
Oregon State turned the ball over 27 times in a loss at USC last year in which the Beavers blew an 18-point lead.
“Hopefully on Sunday the 27 we had at USC last year, maybe we can cut that in half or maybe a third,” Rueck said.