With Washington State’s Marie Kostourkova going to the line to shoot two free throws with 1.9 seconds left in overtime and the Cougars down one, Oregon State coach Scott Rueck called Mikayla Pivec over to talk about the best way to give the Beavers one last chance at a win Friday night.
Rueck wasn’t setting up a play for Pivec to make a game-winning shot. Instead, he wanted Pivec, who also throws the javelin for the Beavers, to inbound the ball.
Kostourkova made one of two free throws to tie the game before Pivec delivered a perfect pass almost three quarters of the court.
There waiting was Katie McWilliams, who gathered the ball before squaring up for a potential game-winning 17-footer.
McWilliams’ shot was short but a foul was called on the play and the junior guard hit both free throws with 1.1 seconds left to give the Beavers the 63-61 Pac-12 women’s basketball win.
The Beavers (18-6, 9-4) were forced to inbound the ball under their own basket because they were out of timeouts.
“In our game anymore it’s rare to have a whole-court play with little time because typically you have a timeout and advance the ball,” Rueck said in his postgame radio interview Friday night. “Once in a while you get in these weird situations where OK, we’re going to go length of the floor here. It used to be what we always had to do.
“So you put it into the best arm around and she threw a great pass, Katie got free deep. ... She was poised enough to take a dribble and then get into her shot.”
McWilliams, who also hit the game-tying shot with 1.2 seconds left that sent the game into overtime, may not agree with Rueck’s assessment of who has the best arm on the team.
“I could challenge her,” McWilliams said on the radio with a laugh. “It was a great pass.”
McWilliams made both free throws, although she was trying to miss the second so the Cougars didn’t have a chance to duplicate the Beavers’ feat.
“We said if you make your first, then give a nice miss on your second one,” Rueck said. “But sometimes you try to miss and you make it.”
It was a strange game all around as the Beavers couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn in the first half. OSU shot 5 for 28 in the first half and scored a miniscule 13 points.
It caused Rueck to wonder exactly what was happening. Did the Beavers leave their game in Corvallis? The team hotel?
“It was just a weird half,” he said.
McWilliams agreed it was strange to see the Beavers shoot just 18 percent from the floor for a half.
“A lot of good looks, a lot of open looks but things just weren’t going down for us,” she said. “I’m just proud of us for coming out in that second half and battling back. … Not a good first half for us.”
The Beavers were able to make the comeback thanks in part to the coming out party for Aleah Goodman. The freshman hit five 3s in the second half and gave the Beavers their first lead of the game on her fourth 3 with 7:43 left.
Goodman tied her career high with 17 points and also had the pass to McWilliams that sent the game to overtime. She played 18 minutes in the second half and overtime and was 6 for 7 from the floor and 5 for 5 from 3.
The Beavers were a plus-12 with Goodman on the court on Friday.
“You need somebody at some point to step up and say enough is enough and knock shots down, and Aleah was that for us (Friday),” Rueck said. “And I couldn’t be more proud of her for the poise and the leadership and toughness she displayed for our program.”
Senior Marie Gulich, who had 15 points to go over 1,000 for her career and tied her career high with 16 rebounds, admitted that even with the win, she didn’t feel great about the Beavers’ performance immediately after the game.
“We won but it didn’t feel good,” she said. “I think we could have played way better. We could have come out stronger. Sunday is another game, another chance.”
The Beavers wrap up the road trip with a 3 p.m. game at Washington.
It will be a homecoming for both Pivec and freshman Taya Corosdale, who are from Lynwood and Bothell, respectively.
Pivec did play in Seattle in the Pac-12 tournament last year but said it will be “different playing at home against the team you grew up rooting for.”
“It will be awesome to see a lot of my friends and family I haven’t seen in a while because the game is a good excuse to come see me,” she added. “Looking forward to seeing them.”