The Oregon State Beaver Women’s Basketball team defeated the DePaul Blue Demons by a score of 98-77 on Thursday night, Nov. 14, in Gill Coliseum. With the win, the Beavers move to 3-0 on the season and advance to play the championship of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, where they were scheduled to play Missouri State on Sunday, Nov. 17.
Starting the game with a lineup featuring two highly rated freshmen in forwards Taylor Jones and Kennedy Brown, the Beavers bench was bolstered by the return of senior guard Kat Tudor.
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Tudor checked into a game for the first time since tearing her ACL last January. Donning a brace on her left knee, the senior guard was met with a standing ovation by fans at Gill Coliseum.
“Obviously the crowd’s reaction was just amazing. I was so happy for her, I was happy for the crowd to see her out there,” said junior guard Aleah Goodman. “It was honestly just pure joy at that moment.”
After one quarter of play, the Beavers led by just two points. While the margin was slim, one thing stood out: size difference. DePaul, whose two tallest players are both listed at 6 feet 2 inches, were struggling to defend the height of OSU’s starting forwards. Brown is listed at 6 feet 6 inches and Jones 6 feet 4 inches.
As the second quarter got rolling, the Beavers started to pull away utilizing their height. With a lineup featuring Brown, redshirt junior guard Destiny Slocum and Goodman, the Beavers were able to open the floor and start scoring some points.
The posts started picking apart the DePaul press, which left a one-on-one matchup. On some occasions, the Blue Demons would try to double team whichever Beaver got the pass down low. When this occurred, the ball was passed out of the post and to an open shooter outside the 3-point line. If help did not arrive, the Beaver bigs simply shot over the top of the defender for a close-range bucket.
“Preparing I was told they fronted in the post, so push them up as high as you possibly can and stick your up and the guards will pass you the ball,” Jones said of preparing for the size difference. “We have amazing guards and they can definitely pass the ball, and that’s how I got all the points.”
At the start of the second half with OSU up 46-31, it was more of the same from the second quarter. The Beavers worked to break the press, feed the post and find open shooters. By the time Jones checked out halfway through the third quarter, she and Brown had combined for 29 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Brown added another block later in the quarter.
“We have two post players that can both play down low that have incredible feet, incredible hands and a feel for the game that’s really unique,” head coach Scott Rueck said. “We knew that before they got here, we watched them, we were so excited through the recruiting process and now it’s fun to have everybody else know what we’ve already known.”
With five seconds left to play in the third period, Goodman got the ball in the Beaver half of the court. Despite tight pressure from the Blue Demon defense, she was able to muster a fade-away shot from near half court that went in as the buzzer sounded.
“She likes nothing more than shooting at the buzzer. It’s something about her, it’s amazing what she does,” Rueck said. “I was telling her to kick it ahead, and then I’m like ‘oh yeah, shoot it.’ Right away it looked good, that was incredible.”
With a 73-54 lead, OSU’s offense carried the excitement into the final period. During a 50-second stretch early in the quarter, Jones hit another layup, Slocum drilled a three pointer and senior guard Mikayla Pivec also hit a long-range shot, prompting a DePaul timeout.
As the quarter progressed, OSU continued to break the press and dominate the glass and their lead grew to as much as 27 points. At this point the Beavers started to slow the game down, often opting to dribble down some clock before initiating the offense.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Beavers saw themselves as the winner by a score of 98-77. Six players scored in double figures and they outrebounded their opposition 56-34.
After the game, Rueck was critical of the NCAA’s decision to deny Kat Tudor a medical redshirt. The rule states that a player cannot receive a medical redshirt if the student athlete plays in more than 30% of the team’s games of the affected season. Last year, Tudor played 13 of 34 matchups, which is equal to about 38%.
“I’m mad about the 21 games she doesn’t get to play. I’m so upset about the ruling, and I think it’s an archaic rule,” Rueck said. “There seems like there needs to be an avenue to those games for not just her but anyone that is in her situation.”
After their Sunday matchup with Missouri State, Rueck and the Beavers will return to Gill Coliseum to play against Southern Utah on Thursday, Nov. 21, with tipoff scheduled for 11 a.m.