The talk during the week leading up to Oregon State’s women’s basketball game at Utah on Friday was the Beavers’ lack of success this season on the road.
The No. 17 Beavers were 0-3 in the Pac-12 and just 1-4 overall entering Friday’s game against the Utes.
Oregon State found itself in a battle most of the night, but made the plays down the stretch to pull away for a 69-58 victory.
“We talked about it before the game,” coach Scott Rueck said in his postgame radio interview. “We’ve played some pretty good teams on the road and it’s hard to beat those teams no matter where you play them.”
The losses have come against ranked teams Duke, UCLA and Oregon, as well as USC in a game the Beavers led by 17 in the third quarter before falling.
Now with the win out of the way, Oregon State will look for a sweep of the Mountain schools when the Beavers take on Colorado at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“Anybody that’s done it knows this is a tough road trip for lots of reasons and to get one down, that’s a great thing,” Rueck said. “But we’ve got to come home with two, and Colorado’s going to be a war over there like it always is. So we’ll get ready for that (Saturday).”
Oregon State senior Marie Gulich had a big game with 18 points and six blocked shots. She also started the closing 10-1 run with two straight buckets to stymie a late Utah push.
“I’m glad we got that win, we really needed it,” she said on the radio. “We’ve got to keep going, keep working on that and we’ve got to keep improving and have the mental mindset to keep winning on the road. That’s really important for us.”
Gulich did a lot of damage but also found herself sitting on the bench for a lengthy rest after picking up two fouls in the first quarter.
“I have to take care of that, I can’t foul so early in the game,” she said. “Just have to be careful with offensive fouls that are unnecessary.”
The Beavers got a lift from the bench on Friday as both guard Taylor Kalmer and center Joanna Grymek had key contributions in the first half.
Kalmer scored all six of her points in the first quarter and Grymek scored all six of hers in the second filling in for Gulich.
“Coming in in the first quarterm we needed a spark and Taylor came in aggressively and fearless and that rubbed off on other people,” said sophomore guard Mikayla Pivec, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Buffaloes are coming off a 74-55 loss to No. 7 Oregon on Friday, although they were down just seven at the half after leading 15-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Colorado is led by junior guard Kennedy Leonard’s 14.4 points per game. Fellow junior guard Alexis Robinson chips in 11.4 and freshman forward Annika Jank is in double figures at 10.5 points per game.
The Beavers enter Sunday tied with California for fourth place in the Pac-12 standings. Oregon is alone in first at 8-1 followed by Stanford and UCLA in second at 7-2. Utah and Arizona State, which both lost on Friday, are tied for sixth.