It may only be the second week of the season, but it should have the feel of March inside Gill Coliseum on Thursday night.
That’s because the No. 7 Oregon State women’s basketball team will face off with No. 18 DePaul in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT.
Tipoff between two teams that could find themselves in the Sweet 16 come the NCAA tournament is set for 7 p.m.
The winner will play for the title on Sunday against the winner of Missouri State and Oklahoma. If the Beavers win, they will either host Missouri State or head to Oklahoma for the championship game.
“I think we need to be ready to play against any team, whether they’re ranked or not, and play as hard and as well as we can each game,” senior Mikayla Pivec said following Monday’s hard-fought 69-57 victory over University of the Pacific.
“But DePaul, we know they’re a consistent tournament team and have offensive scorers from all five positions. To be able to win we’re going to have to play a lot better than we did today.”
While Oregon State (2-0) was in a battle against the Tigers, the Blue Demons (2-0) jumped out to a big early lead and were never threatened in topping Drexel 81-57.
DePaul had three players in double figures and two more with at least seven points.
Forward Chantelle Stonewall led the way with 19 points while guards Sonya Morris (17) and Lexi Held (15) were close behind. Kelly Campbell added nine.
DePaul won the Big East tournament last year and was upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by No. 11 seed Missouri State, which advanced to the Sweet 16.
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The Blue Demons, who have been to 17 straight NCAA tournaments, are led by coach Doug Bruno, who Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said has “a long legacy of nothing but success and he’s done everything the right way.”
The Beavers faced DePaul in the Sweet 16 in 2016 and won 83-71, thanks in part to a career-high 38 points from Jamie Weisner to advance to the Elite Eight.
“There’s not many teams that coach offense the way they coach offense,” Rueck said. “I’ve never seen so many confident shooters one through not five but one through 10, 12 however many players they have.
“So we learned a lesson that night. That was the first time I told (center) Ruth (Hamblin) to go guard the 3-point line."
The Beavers know they must play better than they did on Monday, when early foul trouble to freshman center Taylor Jones through their rotation out of whack.
“I think any time you have new rotations that maybe you don’t practice with as often it throws you off a little bit,” said Pivec, who had 18 points and 17 rebounds. “But we just never got into a flow offensively, I thought, the whole game. So we’ll look at the film and be ready to adjust and be ready to go against DePaul.”
Pacific’s defense also caused the Beavers trouble as Oregon State turned the ball over 23 times.
“Hopefully that’s the most we ever have this year,” Rueck said. "This team with the experience we have handling the basketball, we should never have that many turnovers but give them credit.”
The Beavers are also playing without two potential starters in Kat Tudor and Taya Corosdale. Tudor said Monday she is close to being back on the court in a game; Corosdale has been sidelined with a hamstring issue and being cautious.
“So we’re just trying to figure it out as we are incomplete,” Rueck said. “Hopefully we have Kat back soon, we have Taya back soon and our depth increases and we have more veterans on the floor.”