Beavers bounce Ducks from women's tourney
In a game that mirrored the season for the Oregon State women's basketball team, the Beavers used one huge quarter to beat rival Oregon Thursday, March 4, and advance to the semifinals of the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament.
A 31-point third-quarter, a record for points in any one quarter at the conference tournament, was the key to a 71-64 OSU win at Las Vegas that sends the Beavers into Friday's 5 p.m. semifinal game against top-seeded Stanford and sends the Ducks limping into the NCAA Tournament.
Oregon State, which started the season struggling and missed more than a month because of COVID-19, is now surging. The Beavers (11-6) have won five in a row — including two over the Ducks in five days — and seven of eight.
Oregon (13-8) greatly misses injured freshman point guard Te-Hina Paopao and is headed the other way. The Ducks have lost five of their last six. The NCAA Tournament is being played in the San Antonio, Texas, area and begins March 21, giving the Ducks more than two weeks to restore some confidence — and adjust to playing without Paopao who, according to Ducks' coach Kelly Graves, is not expected to be ready for the start of the NCAAs.
OSU freshman guard Talia von Oelhoffen, who left high school early to join the Beavers at midseason, was a central figure on Thursday. She finished with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists and scored 13 points in the second half including several timely baskets with Oregon making a push.
Aleah Goodman had 10 points and seven assists, Taylor Jones 10 points and eight rebounds, and Sasha Goforth 10 points for Oregon State.
Goodman, the senior point guard from La Salle Prep, used the word fearless to describe her younger teammates, including freshmen Goforth and von Oelhoffen.
"I forget that they are first-year, that this is their first Pac-12 tournament because they are playing so well and just their IQ of the game and how well they know basketball. Then, they're just fearless," Goodman said.
"This team just needed time," Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. "Talia has obviously impacted our team. That's added a layer of talent and filled a void that we had. So Talia's addition advanced us beyond probably what we were capable of before she arrived. But this team coming together, defending like we are now, operating cohesively, executing like we are now, inside/out, shooters all over the floor, we just needed a chance to play."
Taylor Mikesell did her best to give Oregon a shot. The junior guard, a transfer from Maryland, scored 20 of her 24 points in the second half. Nyara Sabally had 16 points and eight rebounds.
But Oregon's perimeter players not named Mikesell managed 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Maddie Scherr made her first career start for Oregon, primarily to defend Goodman. Sherr didn't score and Erin Boley and Taylor Chavez combined for seven points. Oregon scored 45 second-half points, but finished 4 of 16 on 3-pointers as the roles of the Ducks' perimeter players adjust to the absence of Paopao.
The Beavers struggled in the first quarter, making only 2 of 16 shots and scoring only five points. But their defense kept the game close as the Ducks managed only 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting. And, much like the arc of this Beavers' season, once they hit a couple of second-quarter shots the confidence surged.
The third quarter was the difference. Oregon State used a 13-0 burst over three minutes late in the period to turn a two-point lead into a 15-point margin. Consecutive 3s from Taya Corosdale and von Olehoffen in the middle of that run cranked up momentum for the Beavers.
"That third quarter was special," Rueck said. "We had great performances throughout our roster. The other day (Feb. 28 at Oregon) we had six players that finished in double figures. Today we had four, with two with eight points. And to beat really good teams you have to — it's best to have scoring come from all over. That's what I challenged the team with: stay aggressive."
That aggression had the Ducks a step slow defensively in the third quarter.
"We did such a great job (defensively) in the first half against them. And it just kind of fell apart there for a little stretch in that third and that was the game," Graves said.
Playing with desperation in the fourth quarter, the Ducks made a game of it. Oregon upped its defensive intensity, forced six OSU turnovers in the fourth quarter, and got as close as 64-60 with 1:41 left.
Sabally then made a steal along the sidelines but couldn't find help to maintain possession and OSU went up six on an uncontested Oelhoffen layup with 1:08 on the clock. Oregon State made five of six foul shots in the final minute.
Perhaps the most telling stat was assists. The Beavers, who were effective moving the ball and running shooters off of screens, had assists on 16 of 27 baskets. The Ducks, whose offense involved much more dribbling, had 10 assists on 26 field goals.
"It's not fun losing anytime. It's certainly not much fun losing to the Beavers for the first time we've ever played in the (Pac-12) tournament," Graves said. "But hats off to them. They earned it. They played well and down the stretch they know who they
are, and they execute."
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