Slaughter: Women’s hoops proves they are the “Big Sister

The Civil War: It’s an annual rivalry between the Oregon State Beavers and the Oregon Ducks in all sports. 

However, eight consecutive losses to Oregon in the Civil War football game has dampened OSU’s reputation to the degree that, to some eyes, the Beavers became the younger brothers of their rivals from Eugene.

The Oregon State women’s basketball team did their best to help OSU fans forget about football, as they carried the torch for the orange and black with a decisive 59-45 victory over the Ducks Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Call the rivalry whatever you want, but as of late the Beavers have made the Ducks look just plain silly. In the now 11 consecutive victories against the Ducks, the Beavers have won by a margin of 16 points per game. The games haven’t even been close, and that is why the Beavers are elite and the Ducks are just playing second fiddle to the best women’s basketball team in the state of Oregon.

The game ended up being closer than most pundits projected as the Beavers entered heavy favorites after a blowout win on Friday, but OSU showed poise, grit, and determination in getting the win, after the Ducks led at the halftime break.

Head coach Scott Rueck has turned the Beavers into a consistent top-10 team over the last two years and so far this season with the exception of a losses to some of the nation’s top teams (Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA) the Beavers have dominated the 2015-2016 season so far.

By sweeping the Civil War for the fifth consecutive year, the Beavers not only have the advantage over the Ducks in the win-loss column, but being so dominant in the on-court performances also helps the Beavers in off-the-court contests as well. 

Perhaps most importantly, beating your in-state rival so convincingly the Beavers gain a leg up in the most important battle of them all; Recruiting. 

If you are a dominant basketball player in the state of Oregon or Washington, you are going to go OSU because they have core values that lead to proven success. Values that were hammered in stone by Rueck when he arrived.

Flashback to June of 2010. 

Rueck is hired to take over an OSU program that was in such a state of disarray that the players in the program either left entirely or voiced their opinions about former coach Lavonda Wagner’s unethical styles of coaching.

Not be be unfair to the OSU players that were in the program when Rueck arrived, but the talent level was almost zero and he had to hold open tryouts just to field a team. 

When Rueck arrived, he told his players that if you believed in his ideals and put the work in, the success would follow.

“Everybody that has been associated with this program from day one has had a belief that something special could be built at Oregon State,” Rueck said. “We have had a philosophy in place with a way to play the game, a way to treat each other, and the (success) is a testament to people believing in us, our coaches working hard in every way. ”

Flash forward to today: The Beavers didn’t play their best game of the season, en route to only a 14-point victory. But the thing to take away from the game is that the Beavers marginal performance will still beat the Ducks’ best performance time and time again.

The fact that the Beavers are still able to annihilate the Ducks even when they committed 16 turnovers speaks volumes to the kind of machine that Rueck has been able to build at OSU.

“The just keep coming at you time and time again,” said Oregon coach Kelly Graves. “It speaks to their program and what they have been able to build.”

The building of a program requires both skill and patience, which Rueck displayed immensely while bringing OSU up from the bottom. He went from outhouse to penthouse. Zero to hero. And perhaps most importantly, he did it the right way: He had a plan, and executed it and the results are evident in the number of wins the Beavers are piling up.

The Ducks may still have the advantage on the football field, but as long as Rueck is at the helm, the Beavers will remain the Big Sister to Oregon on the hardwood.

On Twitter @b_slaught

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