PULLMAN, Wash. – The game may have been on the road, but the result was the same for the red-hot Oregon State women’s basketball team, as the Beavers cruised by the host Washington State Cougars, 67-53, at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman on Friday night.
The win, OSU’s sixth in a row and eighth in its last nine games, moves the team’s record to 18-9 overall and 10-5 in conference play. It’s the Beavers’ best league start through 15 games since 1999-00, only the fifth season in program history with double-digit Pac-10/12 wins and the first since the 2001-02 squad went 11-7.
“This is a really good win for us against a Washington State team with a lot of weapons,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “I love the way we continued to fight, the way we executed on both ends and I thought we put together a great 40 minutes tonight.”
Defense ruled the day for OSU. The Beavers, who led 37-33 at the break, held WSU (14-13, 8-7) scoreless for the first seven minutes of the second half and locked down two of the Pac-12’s premier scorers in Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira.
Presley, coming off back-to-back 32-point efforts which earned her Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, was held scoreless in the first half and didn’t tally her first point until hitting a free throw with six minutes to go. The conference’s fifth-leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, Presley scored just seven on 1-of-9 shooting.
Galdeira, who came in scoring 17.8 points per outing, hit her average (18). But after putting in 11 of WSU’s first 18 in the game’s opening seven minutes, the sophomore scored only seven over the final 33. In the second half, OSU held Galdeira to 1-of-8 from the floor and only three points.
Washington State pulled to within five, 40-35, on a Galdeira layup with 13:13 left before the Beavers reeled of an 11-2 run to take their first double-digit lead on the night and put the game away.
Sydney Wiese started the spurt with a layup in traffic and then hit one of her four 3-pointers 30 seconds later to put Oregon State up 45-35 with 12:06 to go. Ali Gibson calmly drained two free throws, Gabriella Hanson had a nice mid-range jumper and Gibson capped it off with a breakaway bucket off an assist from Wiese to give the Beavers a 51-37 advantage with 9:10 on the clock.
Washington State wouldn’t score its 10th point in the second half until 15 minutes had gone by. In that stanza, the Beavers held Washington State to just six made field goals on 33 attempts (18.2 percent).
“We’re just so consistent with our execution,” Rueck added. “We followed a game plan and took those personal matchups seriously. Tia is a great player. She scored 64 points last weekend and it took a big effort from us tonight. Galdeira is going to get hers. She hit some big shots in the first half to bring them back, but in the second half I thought we tightened up everything on them.”
OSU’s lead would grow as large as 17 (58-41) when Wiese nailed another triple with about five minutes to play and the Beavers would handle full court pressure from Washington State the rest of the way to nab the all-important victory, which has big implications for seeding in the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Beavers are currently tied with Arizona State for third in the Pac-12, just one game behind second-place Cal and one game ahead of Washington and USC.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Rueck said of his team’s hunt for the postseason. “You prepare all year, you dream about being in the equation at the end and we are. This team has done a phenomenal job playing great basketball down the stretch, staying positive and composed. They just continue to improve and I think we saw that tonight. This is a tough place to play and we came away with a road victory where we separated at the end and won by double figures. There are great things ahead for us and obviously we have a huge test in Seattle on Sunday.”
The first half was a game of runs. The Cougars scored 11 straight to go up 18-10 before OSU answered with seven straight of its own. Oregon State’s stretch would balloon to a 14-1 spurt over nearly five minutes when Wiese hit her second from behind the arc with 7:53 until intermission to give OSU a 24-19 lead. WSU responded with its own 7-0 run late in the half to eventually pull within four heading into the locker room.
In the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 26 in Corvallis, the Beavers made 14 of their first 16 shots. Tonight, Oregon State was successful on 12 of its first 17 attempts from the floor. OSU shot 45.8 percent overall (22-of-48) and held Washington State to just 28.8 percent (19-of-66), the first conference opponent it has held below 30 percent this season and fourth overall. Oregon State is now 20-2 when holding its opponent below 30 percent shooting under Rueck.
Oregon State had four players score in double figures for the eighth time this season and is undefeated when that occurs. Sydney Wiese led the way with 16 points and four assists. She made four 3-pointers, and is just one shy of tying Stanford’s Jeannette Pohlen (2009) for 10th in Pac-12 single-season history.
Ruth Hamblin added 15 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks to notch her seventh double-double of the season and third in the last four games. The sophomore also has six blocks in three straight and 101 this year, becoming just the fourth player in conference history to hit triple digits in a single season.
Ali Gibson and Gabriella Hanson contributed 13 apiece for Oregon State. It’s Hanson’s fourth straight game in double figures. She’s scored 10+ in six of OSU’s last seven games after only doing it once in the first 20.
Oregon State will have another tough road test with postseason implications when it travels to Seattle to match up with Washington (16-10, 9-6) on Sunday at 2 p.m.