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Pivec vs. ASU

Mikayla Pivec and Oregon State will face Arizona State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 women's basketball tournament on Friday. The Beavers swept the regular-season series but won both games by a combined seven points.

Arizona State hopes the third time will be the charm.

Oregon State, on the other hand, hopes to continue its recent success against the Sun Devils.

The No. 10 Beavers, the third seed in the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament, will face the No. 6-seeded Sun Devils at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the final quarterfinal game at the Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena in Seattle.

Oregon State (23-6) won both regular-season games — by a combined seven points — including last Sunday’s come-from-behind win at Arizona State in a game that Marie Gulich took over in the second half.

The senior center was an incredible 13 for 13 from the field in the second half as she scored 30 of her career-high 36 points to help the Beavers rally from down 10 at the half.

It was the seventh straight win for the Beavers over the Sun Devils, dating back to the 2013-14 season.

Arizona State is coming off a dominating win over Arizona late Thursday night when the Sun Devils bolted to a 17-2 lead after one quarter and finished the game 33 for 58 from the field for an incredible 56.9 percent.

ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said the Sun Devils are excited to get a third crack at the Beavers.

“We've had two great kind of epic battles with them, so that's going to be really fun,” she said.

However, she knows it won’t be as easy on Friday as it was Thursday against the Wildcats.

“I think that in those games they played us differently and we settled and we didn't execute quite as well offensively,” Turner Thorne said. “I think in some ways it was very similar. We played three and a half quarters really well. The difference is when you're playing a top 10 team and you have a half quarter off, it's different than a team is obviously building.”

The Sun Devils (20-11) led by as many as nine in the first half at Oregon State on Jan. 12 before the Beavers rallied to end a two-game slide, their first losing streak since that 2013-14 campaign.

ASU was up 10 at the half last Sunday at home, and had allowed the Beavers to score just 22 points in the first half.

Then Gulich took over and the Beavers wrapped up a tie for third in the conference.

So what can the Sun Devils do differently this time around?

“We obviously took away their three-point game, not the whole entire game, but the second half we weren't locked in in defending Gulich,” Turner Thorne said. “Obviously, we have to figure that out, and we plan to do the best that we can.

“Gulich is a great player. I don't know if she's up for an All-American, but to me, she's that level. You know, you've just got to try to contain her a little bit better, which that will be our job tomorrow night.”

It will be the second straight year the Beavers play their quarterfinal game against the team they ended the regular season against.

Last year, the Beavers wrapped up their third straight regular-season title with a home win over California, then faced the Golden Bears in the quarterfinals.

OSU won by 15 at home and 16 in the tournament.

“Back to back has its advantages and disadvantages,” Gulich said. “It’s hard because they have a run at us, too. They know what we want to do. They know what our scheme is and the same for us. But now since we don’t have to adjust to any other team we can work on those things, which is good for us.”

Gulich said the Beavers must play with heart and as a team to keep their streak alive against the Sun Devils and take the first step to playing in a third straight tournament title game.

“We just have to be on the same page on defense,” she said. “We have to know what (ASU) wants to do. At the end of the day the Pac-12 tournament comes down to defense and knowing what the other team wants to do.

“And then we’ve just got to execute our offense so I think just playing together as a team, staying positive throughout it all and then just pouring our heart and hard work into it.”


Sports editor of the Albany Democrat-Herald and Corvallis Gazette-Times

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