Taking down the Trees

Jonathan Parrish, Sports Reporter

Women’s hoop face major test against Stanford on Sunday

By Jonathan Parrish

Sports Reporter

The Oregon State women’s basketball team looks ahead to its challenging matchup with Stanford on Sunday.

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In Scott Rueck’s tenure as OSU’s head coach, he has never beat Stanford. In fact, the closest loss the Beavers had under him was 67-60, on Jan. 7, 2011. This season, however, the Cardinal looks like a very similar team to OSU — at least on paper.

Both teams sit 3-1 in the Pac-12 standings, and there are a few notable stats the two teams are neck-and-neck in. OSU averages 70.2 points to their opponent’s 51.1, a scoring margin of plus-19.1 points. Stanford averages 70.5 points to their opponent’s 52.8, a scoring margin of plus-17.7 points.

“We just definitely know that they are evenly matched with us and they’re well coached,” senior forward Devin Hunter said. “They do similar things that we do.”

Another noteworthy stat is field-goal percentage defense. OSU is first in the conference, holding other teams to 30.7 percent shooting. The Cardinal is right behind, at 31 percent.

The two teams even shoot three-pointers at nearly the same clip. The Beavers rate behind the arc is 35 percent, while Stanford shoots just a bit better at 35.6 percent.

Rueck knows that the perennial contender is no slouch.

“I think they’re a team that’s always well coached,” he said. “They’re very disciplined, they’re committed to the defensive side of the floor, those things never change no matter who they have. Defensively their numbers rank similar to us, so it’s a team that’s tough to score against, let alone stop them.”

Freshman point guard Katie McWilliams, the temporary starter in place of still-injured junior point guard Sydney Wiese, says it all comes down to execution.

“We play great defense, but we need to keep it up,” she said.

Controlling the glass

One thing OSU does have an advantage over Stanford is in rebounding. The Beavers have outrebounded every opponent this season, leading the nation in defensive rebounds with 33 per game. Their rebounding margin is plus-16.4. It’s something for the Beavers to exploit against the Cardinal, who only averages 5.3 more rebounds than their opponent.

Rueck says rebounding is the key to winning games.

“Two years ago, we were not a good rebounding team, we were actually bad,” he said. “Last year that changed. Rebounding has remained something we understand ‘you got to do it, and you’ve got to be great at it.’ We didn’t always have five people committed to it, and that changed last year, and it’s just continued.”

Rueck’s demand to be a good rebounding team has resonated with the players, including Hunter, who averages 5.5 boards per game.

“(Rueck) told us if we don’t get rebounds, that’s lost distance for ourselves,” she said. “So we know that we have to get as many rebounds as possible offensively and defensively because on offense that gives us extra points. That’s something that’s been drilled in since my freshman year.”

Fans make a difference

Players and coaches will tell you that a big advantage to winning any game is fan support.

OSU averages 4,492 fans per game at Gill Coliseum, first in the Pac-12. The second-place leader in attendance, Stanford, trails by 1,435.

For a team that has gone 34-4 in its last 38 games at Gill Coliseum, fans showing up every game and cheering their loudest is a big part of that success. Hunter agrees, although wishes that a lot more students show up.

“It’s definitely the best to play in front of a bunch of people packed. It’s loud, it affects the other team, and the (fans) behind you the whole time, so it’s definitely important to fill Gill everytime.”

On Twitter @JonnyP_96

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