Oregon State Women’s Basketball suffered a hard fought, close loss on the road to the fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal by a 63-60 final on Feb. 21, and left the Beavers without a much-needed conference win that would have snapped a few recent losing streaks.
Dating back to their Feb. 10 loss to the Arizona Wildcats, Oregon State has now lost their last four games, and eight of their last 12. A win against Stanford in their final regular season meeting would have given the Beavers a top-five win to snap those cold spells, and potentially give the team a jolt of confidence heading into the Beavers final three games, not including postseason play.
Instead, the loss brings Oregon State’s overall record to 19-8, while pushing their conference record at below .500 to 7-8, the most PAC-12 losses the Beavers’ have suffered since the 2013 season. With so much on the line, Oregon State gave their all against the higher-ranked home court Cardinal, and kept the Stanford fans in Maples Pavillion on their toes until the final buzzer.
With both teams being ranked in the top 15, a competitive fight was expected, with the first half living up to the billing. Both Oregon State and the Cardinal opened the first two quarters trading shots and momentum, with only two points separating the teams when the first half ended at 36-34.
After outscoring the Beavers 18-11 in the third quarter and extending their lead to 14 halfway through the fourth, it looked as though Oregon State was short on any chance of a comeback. But a late 10-0 run from the Beavers brought the team within four points of pulling off the upset with three minutes left in the game.
After trading shots and possessions, the Beavers were able to cut the deficit to three with 17 seconds remaining, and found themselves with the ball after a steal from freshman forward Taylor Jones. Trying to capitalize on her strong night from the field, Oregon State gave junior guard Destiny Slocum the final shot, but could not get the last-second three to fall.
Slocum had a strong night and ended as the Beavers leading scorer, finishing with 26 points and going four of 11 from three. However, Slocum’s solid individual performance was not enough to hold off the Cardinal, who had a strong showing from their junior guard Kiana Williams. Williams ended the night playing all 40 minutes and coming away with 24 points on 9-19 from the field.
“Probably the second closest we’ve ever played Stanford in this building in the history of our program,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said via a postgame radio interview. “They battled with a lot of pride, a lot of effort and a lot of heart.”
Close games against strong opponents have become the Beavers’ trademark during their four-game losing streak. Losses to ranked Arizona and UCLA Bruins teams have both come in overtime, while Oregon State’s other recent losses to the USC Trojans and this one against Stanford have been decided by no more than two possessions.
But despite the recent stretch of losses, Rueck sees reason for optimism in their tight battle against Stanford and believes his Beavers’ team is improving.
“Hard place to play against a really good team and I thought we had a really focused effort tonight. I thought we just got better,” Rueck said.
While the Beavers’ struggles began before their last win, a last second home victory against Arizona State, it is possible that the season-ending injury Oregon State’s freshman forward Kennedy Brown suffered that night is still hurting the Beavers as a team. The freshman had started each game for Oregon State this season, and the Beavers have yet to win a game that Brown has not taken the court for.
Oregon State will need to learn to adapt to life without Brown as best they can, and they will need to do it sooner rather than later. With only three games remaining before the PAC-12 tournament, the Beavers will not have many more chances to impress voters before seeding is decided for the NCAA tournament.
If trends continue for Oregon State and they have an early exit from the PAC-12 tournament, they might miss out on being named one of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament, meaning the Beavers would not get to play host for the first two rounds of tournament games.
Oregon State will return to Gill Coliseum to finish out their season and home games on Feb. 28 for their matchup versus Washington in Corvallis, Ore. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.