Oregon State’s three-year run as Pac-12 women’s basketball regular-season champions will come to an end this year, but the No. 12 Beavers have still had plenty of success this season.
The Beavers wrap up the regular season with Sunday’s 1 p.m. game at Arizona State with an opportunity to finish in a tie for third, or even second.
Oregon State (22-6, 13-4) needs a win to finish tied with UCLA (23-6, 14-4) for third after the Bruins survived an overtime game with Utah on Saturday.
The Beavers could finish in a three-way tie for second if Washington State (10-19, 3-14) can upset No. 16 Stanford (20-11, 13-3) on Sunday.
If the Beavers and Bruins end tied, Oregon State would be the No. 3 seed based on a win over Oregon, assuming the No. 8 Ducks (26-4, 15-2) take care of business against Arizona (6-22, 2-15) on Sunday.
While the Beavers are already assured of a bye in the first round of next week’s Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena in Seattle, they know the importance of Sunday’s game.
Oregon State is still on the outside looking in at a possible top 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, which would allow the Beavers to host the first and second rounds for a fourth straight season.
A loss would make that prospect a lot more difficult.
The Beavers expect a tough battle against the Sun Devils, who started 4-0 in Pac-12 play but enter Sunday just 10-7 (19-11 overall).
“It a good atmosphere and they play hard,” OSU senior center Marie Gulich said of ASU. “I think going there we just have to be more dialed in and better. We have to be more consistent and be calmed and poised in everything we do.”
OSU coach Scott Rueck knows ASU will present challenges because of its toughness.
“They are as physical as anybody, they’re coached that way, they are just a mentally tough, physically tough team and they pride themselves on that,” he said. “So you know it’s going to be very physical, very challenging, you’re going to have to be on you’re a game.”
The teams played a barnburner the first time they met back on Jan. 12 at Gill Coliseum. The Sun Devils were on a roll at 4-0 but the Beavers rallied for a 57-54 win.
It was a big win for the Beavers, who were just 2-2 in the conference and coming off a lost weekend in Los Angeles in which they were swept, including a 35-point loss at UCLA and a loss to USC after blowing a 17-point third-quarter lead.
Rueck described the first matchup as a “real gut check” earlier this week.
“We were filled with doubt and to our players’ credit they found a way to grit out a win,” he said. “We’re just expecting another epic battle along those lines.”
The Sun Devils need a win to earn the No. 5 seed in the Pac-12 tournament or to have California fall at Washington. The teams enter Sunday tied at 10-7 in conference play but the Sun Devils own the tiebreaker after sweeping the Golden Bears.