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After five lopsided wins, the Oregon State women’s basketball team knew it would have its hands full Wednesday night.

And the No. 17 Beavers were up to the challenge in their final tuneup before Pac-12 play, seizing control in the third quarter on their way to a hard-fought 61-47 win over UC Davis before a Gill Coliseum crowd of 3,474.

“I thought tonight was awesome, actually,” said coach Scott Rueck, who won his 450th career game as a college coach.

“I thought it was the perfect game for us in our situation just as we’re preparing for Pac-12 play. It was every bit of what I expected. This was a team that had the ability to beat us and we were going to have to win this game because we made plays, and I thought our team made plays all night.”

Oregon State (9-2) led just 34-30 at the half, but a 16-6 edge in the third quarter turned out to be enough to fight off an Aggies team that had started the season 9-0 before dropping its last two.

The Beavers forced the Aggies into a 3-for-16 performance from the field and held them scoreless for 6½ minutes in the period.

“That third quarter, I just thought we kind of imposed our will and I thought our defense was absolutely phenomenal,” Rueck said. “It was the best defensive quarter we’ve had so far this season.”

Mikayla Pivec, who led the Beavers with 14 points, was pleased with the aggressiveness her team played with in the third quarter, especially.

“This year so far we haven’t had the best third quarters, so to come out and take it to UC Davis was huge for us,” she said.

The strong defense continued in the fourth as Davis was just 3 for 19 from the floor. The Aggies were only 16 for 67 from the field for the game (23.9 percent), well below their season average (47.9).

The Beavers were able to contain Morgan Bertsch, Davis’ leading scorer. While she did score a game-high 20, the 6-foot-4 redshirt junior was just 8 for 28 from the floor and had just eight in the second half.

Taya Corosdale and Marie Gulich each added 12 for the Beavers, who failed to have four players score in double figures for just the second time this season.

Gulich had a game-high 12 rebounds for her third double-double in the past four games. Pivec added nine rebounds while Katie McWilliams chipped in eight as the Beavers dominated the glass 57-35.

Corosdale, who started her second straight game, scored five points in the decisive third quarter, starting the period with a 3 that gave the Beavers their largest lead to that point at 37-30.

After a Bertsch field goal, the Beavers scored 11 straight to take a 48-34 lead. Davis got no closer than 13.

Corosdale has put up double figures in both starts.

“I definitely feel like I’m getting a little more confident and I feel like I’m growing as a player,” Corosdale said. “So I just need to keep that up.”

It was a pretty even first half as neither team was able to get much separation. The Aggies’ biggest lead was just two while the Beavers pushed the advantage to six before leading 34-30 at the break.

The Beavers were 12 for 29 from the floor in the first half but eight turnovers led to seven Davis points.

Oregon State had six offensive rebounds leading to nine second-chance points.

The Beavers, who entered the game leading Division I in field goal percentage at 53.5, finished 21 for 58 (36.2 percent) but hit 14 of 16 free throws after averaging just 62.6 percent.

“This game tonight took everything we had,” Rueck said. “They’re just so disciplined and execute so well.”

That’s what the Beavers can expect from here on out, starting with the conference opener at home on Dec. 29 against Washington.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald