OSU in play for top-4 seed with two regular season games left
Beavers will need to win final two and get some help to get a first-round Pac-12 Tourney bye
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 21:07
Top four. That is the goal.
If the Oregon State women's basketball team finishes fourth or higher in the Pac-12, they will get a first-round bye in next week's Pac-12 Tournament.
The Beavers (16-11, 9-7 Pac-12) reside in a tie for fourth with UCLA with two games to play. The Bruins defeated OSU 69-60 earlier this year, and therefore hold the tiebreaker over the Beavers.
The Beavers will finish in the top four if they win both of their games this weekend and the Bruins lose either Thursday at Washington State or Saturday at Washington.
There are other scenarios, but the bottom line is this: OSU has to take care of its business.
"I am excited with where we are, and we still have that opportunity to climb. We need some help now, and have to take care of business," head coach Scott Rueck said. "I'm proud of the team for finishing in the top half of the conference, now it's just seeding the tournament, and we are going to see how high we can get."
OSU could finish as high as third.
Thursday, OSU will face Utah in Salt Lake City.
The two teams squared off earlier this month, resulting in a 62-49 OSU win. The Beavers were riding a 3-game winning streak and sealed the deal early in the second half.
Since then, Utah found a way to put together a 3-game winning streak of their own, but it came to a halt last week after playing the conference best, Stanford and Cal. The Utes reside in a tie for eighth in the conference standings.
Both teams will be looking to boost their confidence and gain momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. The Beavers are coming off their Civil War win as an extra ego boost.
"It was getting back on track, getting our momentum and confidence back — closing the chapter that is the Ducks," junior guard Sage Indendi said.
"It's mental. We are coming in with confidence but not that cockiness, so we are coming in prepared and have worked really hard," senior guard Earlysia Marchbanks said.
The Beavers' 8-3 record on the road proves their resiliency to move past the underlying variables that come with playing on the road.
"Utah is really good team. I feel like they had a bad game here. We still have to go there and play at the higher altitude," Marchbanks said. "No excuses, so we will go there prepared."
The Utes are a formidable opponent, despite their sub-.500 record.
"They are tough. They will play half court, lock you up, and control tempo. Their post-play is really strong. They are physical and will take the air out of the ball and work the shot clock and limit possessions," Rueck said. "It's going to be a grind out game just as it was the other day."
Guard Iwalani Rodrigues is the offensive threat that Oregon State will key on defensively. She put up 23 points against California last week, an opponent with one of the most athletic defenses in the conference.
"They have a great scorer. Rodrigues is really playing well right now," Rueck said. "She took it to Cal and Stanford both, and made one-on-one plays."
Oregon State will travel to Boulder, Colo. after facing Utah. The Beavers defeated the Buffaloes by 20 earlier this year in Corvallis.
"I love where our heads are, and how tough we were the other day, and that gives me every reason for optimism that we are going to finish strong and hope to be a postseason team," Rueck said.
Jacob Shannon, sports writer