Pac-12 WBB roundup: Oregon State sizzles, JuJu Watkins rolls on and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark approaches Kelsey Plum’s scoring record

If Oregon State didn’t have the full attention of the college basketball world after home wins over Utah and Colorado, it does now.

By completing a season sweep of the Pac-12 mountain schools, this time with dominating road wins, the Beavers are making a dam good case for being the best team in the mighty Pac-12.

Charli Turner Thorne, the former Arizona State coach and current Pac-12 Networks analyst, says this Oregon State team could be as good as the 2016 NCAA Final Four version. And that was before the Beavers built a 25-point lead and held on to beat Colorado 65-59 Sunday.

Unranked nationally until Jan. 22, Oregon State now occupied the No. 11 position — a breathtaking climb up the AP poll based on four top-25 victories in a five-game winning streak. The victory over Colorado was the first on the road against a top-5 opponent in school history.

The Beavers (20-3/9-3) are 1.5 games behind the Pac-12 leader, No. 3 Stanford, which plays in Corvallis in two weeks. Before that, they are home against ninth-ranked UCLA on Friday and No. 10 USC on Sunday.

OSU’s only three losses are against Stanford and the L.A. schools.

“This team is not that team,” Beavers guard Talia von Oelhoffen said in a post-game radio interview Sunday.

“Going to Stanford, especially, exposed a lot. We’ve grown so much since then. Even though we came out on the bottom on those, I couldn’t be more confident going into this weekend. We don’t feel like the underdogs. We know how good we are. If we execute on both ends, I don’t believe anyone in the Pac can hang with us.”

Coach Scott Rueck is 290-149 in his 14th season at Oregon State, remarkably similar to his success at Division III school George Fox (288-88 over 14 seasons). That consistency is built on defense, with the peaks coming when Rueck finds enough offensive talent to boost his scoring margin.

Not only does 6-foot-2 forward Raegan Beers have 14 double-doubles in 23 games, which is tied for 10th nationally, but Timea Gardiner, Lily Hansford and von Oelhoffen are among the conference’s 3-point leaders. Hansford is shooting 49.2 percent from distance and made her first two non 3-point baskets of the season Sunday.

“The bench was going absolutely insane because we always challenge Lily to get a 2 because she just knocks down 3s left and right,” Beers said. “It was awesome to see her work off that pressure, working on her back cuts. That was nothing that was drawn up. That was just her basketball IQ.”

Sophomores Beers, Gardiner and Hansford are pillars of a 2022 recruiting class ranked No. 3 nationally. Oregon State figures to dominate the West Coast Conference in women’s basketball for at least the next two seasons after the dissolution of the current Pac-12.

Gardiner is from Utah and Beers from Colorado, so the road wins were especially meaningful for them.

“My support system here in Colorado, not just my family, is absolutely amazing,” Beers said. “I love them so much, I’m so glad …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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