Mikayla Pivec brings a veteran’s savvy to Oregon State

Kalib LaChapelle, Multimedia Contributor

Scott Rueck says that he has a player who is a natural leader, whom he trusts in the game’s biggest situations.

The 7-year head coach is not talking about seniors Sydney Weise or Gabby Hansen, who were part of last year’s team that made a run to the Final Four. He’s talking about one of his youngest players, freshman guard Mikayla Pivec.

It’s not hard to see what Rueck is talking about. Mikayla Pivec as a freshman is starting for the No. 8 ranked team in the country and is averaging 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds from the guard position, as well as providing defensive intensity.

She has earned two “Freshman of the Week” honors this season, the first of which came during the week of Dec. 26th, when she got her first start against Quinnipiac University in the Las Vegas MGM Shootout.

“(Pivec) is learning very fast and she’s very aggressive,” said Wiese. “I love what she brings to the table every day for us.”

Coming in as ESPN’s No. 26 ranked recruit in the 2016 class, Pivec has consistently increased her contribution. In the Beavers’ 10th game, Pivic earned her first start and she scored in the double digits for the first time in her career. In the 11 games since, she has been in double digits four more times and has averaged 10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.

“She’s inspiring,” said Rueck. “She is someone that gets better every moment and has stepped into some huge situations and played like a veteran.”

In comparison, over the first 11 starts, Wiese averaged 11.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

“She rebounds hard and plays hard every second and she’s so selfless,” Weise said. “I think that’s her best attribute as a player and as a person.”

Pivec has been putting up these numbers in the midst of a conference schedule in a very tough Pac-12 conference. Five teams in the Pac-12 are ranked in the top 16 nationally by the NCAA, and if the tournament was held today they would all receive top four seeds.

Starting for a top-ten team has high pressure already, but being in the conference with the most top-16 schools in the country adds something extra to it.

“There’s a higher expectation of being more aggressive and doing whatever it takes to help my team be successful,” said Pivec.

But the basketball court isn’t the only place that Pivec is working hard. With a 4.0 High School GPA at Lynnwood High School in Washington, she was accepted into the University Honors College here at Oregon State.

“(School) has been good so far, teachers really help make it engaging, but we got a month off so I didn’t really have to worry about school as much in December,” said Pivec cracking a smile.

Pivec has been making an impact on and off the court for her team throughout this 2016-17 season, and has filled a major role for the Beavers heading towards the second half of the season and the Pac-12 tournament.

“She is someone that has a natural leadership ability through the way she conducts herself and the standard that she lives, plays, and competes with,” said Rueck.


On Twitter @KalibLaChapelle