Women's basketball travels to No. 4 Stanford
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 04:02
The last time the Oregon State women’s basketball team played at Stanford, the Beavers held a lead in the second half. This season, the two teams are headed in opposite directions as the Beavers (9-17, 3-11 Pac-12) are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. No. 4 Stanford (24-2, 13-1) have not lost since Jan. 13.
“We have nothing to lose now,” said sophomore guard Ali Gibson. “Whenever you’re at the top you’ve got a [target] on your back and everyone wants to beat you. If we beat Stanford it will be a ‘SportsCenter moment.’”
Stanford is the fourth-best team in the nation and has stood alone atop the conference for several years. The Cardinal had won 81 consecutive conference games before falling to California in January.
Stanford has the conference-leading scorer and rebounder in junior forward Chiney Ogwumike, averaging 22.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.
Ogwumike’s older sister, Nneka, was drafted first overall in the 2012 WNBA draft and was also the Rookie of the Year, so there is a boatload of talent in their blood.
Oregon State will need its defense to slow Ogwumike down to have a chance. OSU is holding opponents to the second-lowest field goal percentage in the conference, behind only the Cardinal.
What has been OSU’s downfall is offense. Oregon State has not recorded 50 points in their last six games, and the Beavers have the lowest scoring offense in the Pac-12.
“A lot of that is experience,” said Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck. “Scoring in the Pac-12 doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a while to get comfortable.”
Game after game, OSU has been right up with a team near the end of the game, but have failed to close the opponent out. Six of Oregon State’s conference losses have been by five points or less.
“Down the stretch in the games that we’ve gotten beat, there’s been a playmaker, somebody that knows how to create a shot or knows how to create one for someone else,” Rueck said. “And we’re so young in that spot. A year ago it was Sage [Indendi, out with an injury] and it was Earlysia [now graduated].”
The Beavers have relied heavily on their freshmen class to play well this season. The five freshmen: Jamie Weisner, Samantha Siegner, Deven Hunter, Khadidja Toure and Ruth Hamblin together account for 47.5 percent of the team’s total offense.
Developing their play and building a foundation for the team’s future has come at the price of a frustrating season — especially since expectations were high at the start of the year after a 20-win season a year ago.
“Losing is tough,” said junior guard Alyssa Martin. “But you’ve just got to keep battling through it. We’ve talked about how much of this sport is mental, and it’s just something you’ve got to keep battling through.”
Expect the Beavers to battle through their biggest game of the season when they face the Cardinal tonight at 8. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Mitch Mahoney, sports reporter
On Twitter @MitchIsHere