Corvallis, Ore. -- Oregon State women's basketball entered their Sunday matchup ranked no. 3 in the nation with the opportunity to take the top spot with a win over Arizona State. What they got instead, was a physical, choppy game in the Wells Fargo Center that resembled more of a gut check than a crowning moment. The undefeated season was stopped in its' tracks, and the Beavers returned to Corvallis with more than a few teachable moments in hand.
"It showed us what the Pac-12 is," says guard Aleah Goodman. "I think that's what this team really needed is that it was a little bit of a gut check and it's important that we're gonna remembering that game and knowing that's how Pac-12 play is gonna be."
The Beavers struggled from three point range, in particular. There have been games in the past, specifically on the road against Stanford in the 2019 season and facing Louisville in the NCAA Tournament, where Oregon State has gone cold, but the 2-11 performance in Tempe was especially jarring.
"Spacing is huge," Goodman mentions. "We can't lack spacing at all. But it just shows that we have to be on our game, every game. We can't have any missed opportunities or missed possessions. We haven't really seen a style like Arizona or Arizona State."
"It was interesting at times," continues head coach Scott Rueck. "Offense came very simple then at times it was like 'man, we couldn't get anything.' Couldn't get any room so I was really proud of the team for coming back. It took a little heart to get back in that game."
Over the past few weeks, the Beaver offense has been good but not great, beating their last five opponents by roughly 14 points per game but not eclipsing 80 points in any of those matchups. While the defense has been completely stifling, there are still improvements to be made, especially with the toughest part of the OSU schedule coming up.
"I'll go C+, B-," guard Mikayla Pivec says. " I've seen good things from us defensively but we'll need to grow offensively in how we set screens and our pace offensively."
Aside from 8-7 California, Oregon State's next opponent, the Beavers don't get much relief in the way of scheduling. They face no. 3 Stanford in Corvallis on Sunday, January 19th before a Civil War weekend series against no. 6 Oregon on January 24th and again on the 26th. OSU also has a road back-to-back with no. 7 UCLA on Monday, February 17th before turning it around and heading to the Bay Area for another top 10 battle with the Cardinal on the 21st.
"You're playing two Top 10 teams three times over eight days," says Rueck. "No one is doing that anywhere I don't think. So that's as clearly as tough as it gets...It's just a fascinating thing. This is the toughest Pac-12 schedule we've ever had, having all the highest ranked teams twice with a few short weeks. It is what it is. It's a challenge."
Tip off for the Beavers game vs. Cal will be 7:00 p.m. at Gill Coliseum.