The first quarter of Sunday’s Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball game between Oregon State and Washington was a shooting exhibition.
The Beavers made 10 of 13 field-goal attempts (77%) and were 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. The visiting Huskies were even better, making 12 of 15 shots from the field (80%), including 3 of 4 3-pointers. As a result, Washington took a 29-23 lead into the second quarter.
The Huskies (10-6, 2-4) continued to shoot well in the second quarter, making four 3-pointers. But the Beavers couldn’t keep pace, making just 3 of 15 shot attempts and going 0 for 5 from deep. This allowed Washington to build a 49-29 halftime lead which Oregon State could not overcome in a 79-67 defeat.
Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said Washington’s stellar first half was due to great shooting along with some defensive mistakes by the Beavers.
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“They were too comfortable. The ball either moved too quick or we were inaccurate, one or the other. When we switched to zone, we made a couple of mistakes, with just angles, and they, like I said, they were so comfortable, they made us pay for every mistake we made. Every mistake,” Rueck said.
Oregon State (10-8, 2-5) has had success this season using its zone defense to defend the 3-point line. That tactic was less successful in the first half on Sunday. Washington repeatedly attacked the zone by flashing a player just inside the free-throw line to receive a pass and then either shoot a short jumper or draw defenders and swing the ball back outside for a good look at a 3-pointer.
The Beavers did a better job defending in the second half and the Huskies did not make a 3-pointer after the break.
“Give Washington a ton of credit. That was an amazing shooting display to start the game. … Even if you’re in the gym by yourself it’s not easy to shoot at that percentage,” Rueck said. “I loved the way that we kept fighting to the very end, but this was their day. They executed extremely well. The ball moved quickly, efficiently and they shot very confidently throughout the game. Great performance by them.”
Other than that second-quarter drought, Oregon State had a solid game offensively, making nearly 50% of their field-goal attempts (25 of 51). Sophomore guard Talia von Oelhoffen rallied back after a tough game Friday night to score a game-high 20 points on 8 of 16 shooting with five rebounds and three steals.
“I just knew I had to have more of an impact on the game after Friday. I think we were a better team when I wasn’t in the game and I just have to learn how to — even if my shot’s not falling — not focusing on that and figuring out what I can do to keep positively impacting the team. So, obviously a couple shots fell for me tonight but I just tried to do everything right and bring energy to the team,” von Oelhoffen said.
The offense is also improved by the presence of Timea Gardiner. The 6-foot-3 freshman forward played her first two games of the season over the weekend and showed glimpses of what an offensive force she can be. Gardiner was very effective on post-ups against Washington and while she is still a bit rusty from the outside, she clearly has the range to be a dangerous weapon from beyond the arc.
With the offense trending in a positive direction, the question is whether the team can defend well enough to make a late-season run. The team has seven players who are in their first year at Oregon State — five freshmen along with transfers Bendu Yeaney and Shalexxus Aaron — and Rueck said they are still learning.
“With this group, we’ve got a lot of youth, a lot of inexperience. Even though Bendu’s a veteran, Lex is a veteran, they’ve been in different programs, they’ve done different things different ways. They’re still in their first year here at Oregon State,” Rueck said. “We talked just after the game in the locker room about, we need to communicate a little bit more, I think. I think that can be an area of focus for this group as we continue to battle through being a relatively inexperienced team.”