Oregon State women's basketball: Postponements kill the momentum
It's hard to build momentum when your season keeps going on pause.
The Oregon State women's basketball team is finding that out the hard way as they try to bounce back from a slow start. The Beavers had to hold on for dear life on Sunday, Jan. 23, to take down Washington (5-7, 0-4 Pac-12) in a 47-41 road win. They came out hot against the Huskies but never pulled away, losing their rhythm midway through the first half. Perhaps that has to do with all the start-and-stop schedule changes that Oregon State has endured this year.
Coming into the season, the Beavers were ranked No. 14 in the AP Preseason Top 25, but the team fell in the poll after consecutive losses around Thanksgiving. Not long after that, a road loss to Villanova on Dec. 12 knocked Oregon State (9-4, 2-1 Pac-12) all the way out of the rankings.
Things were looking up again, though, after a dominating trip to Hawaii for the Maui Classic over the weekend of Dec. 17-19, in which the team racked up wins by 30 and 11 over Idaho and Northern Iowa, respectively. The Beavers already had a nine-day break written into the schedule for the Christmas holiday; however, their vacation was extended due to the surge of the omicron variant.
The first scheduling casualty was the Beavers' Dec. 28 home matchup with North Carolina Central, which was nixed due to COVID-19 issues within the Eagles' program. Oregon State then announced that both of its first two Pac-12 games on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2 would be postponed due to issues in the Colorado and Utah programs. Positive tests within the Beavers' team would then force OSU to postpone its trip to the Bay Area to play Cal on Jan.7 and Stanford on Jan. 9.
Because five consecutive games fell by the wayside, Oregon State went 25 days between the Northern Iowa win and its next game against then-No. 7 Arizona on Jan. 13. The Beavers didn't take long to shake off the rust, though, nearly toppling the high-ranked Wildcats at Gill Coliseum but falling 55-53 on an Arizona buzzer-beater.
Then, almost predictably, more COVID-19 issues cropped up and forced the postponement of Oregon State's Jan. 15 matchup with Arizona State. Two days later, though, the Beavers were back in action and knocked off No. 22 Colorado in overtime.
Like many teams in the college game today, the Beavers are living and dying by the 3-point shot to some degree. In three losses before the Maui trip, OSU shot just over 28 percent from beyond the arc. In the five games since then, the team is shooting over 42 percent on 3-pointers.
The best part of the recent run of form, perhaps, is that it is not just one sharpshooter carrying the burden.
In the Maui Classic, it was freshman Greta Kampschroeder who led the team with seven 3-pointers during the two games. Against Arizona and Washington, Taya Corosdale led the way with a trio of 3-pointers in each game. Ellie Mack has also stepped up, hitting all four of her 3-point attempts — as well as the game-tying 2-pointer to send the game to overtime — in the upset win over Colorado. And the game-winning 3-pointer against the Buffs in OT? That came from Talia von Oelhoffen, the team's leading scorer.
This resurgence from behind the 3-point line is especially well-timed considering star forward Taylor Jones is nursing an injury that has kept her out of the past three games. Her timetable to return to the lineup is unclear, but the Beavers will be in good hands so long as the long ball keeps falling.
In fact, with the way Oregon State has been playing recently, the Beavers will likely be back in the Top 25 before too long. Unfortunately, they may face exposure issues — and not just due to the ongoing pandemic. OSU has played just three times since Dec. 19, and while each performance has been impressive in its own way, they may not have been enough to make an impression on AP voters.
The COVID bug continues to infect the Beavers' season, claiming most recently a Jan. 21 matchup with Washington State, which had positive tests in its program. For now, though, the team is back and slowly gaining steam. As it stands, the Beavers will be back at Gill Coliseum for games Friday, Jan. 28 against USC and Sunday, Jan. 30 against UCLA.
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