After their first loss of the season to Tennessee last week, the #11 OSU women's basketball team bounced back against Cal Poly in an 80-43 rout. They overcame the absence of junior guard Sydney Wiese, due to a broken bone in her right hand, and a slow start to blowout the overmatched Mustangs.
Junior guard Gabby Hanson paced the Beavers with 19 points and four three-pointers on 7-15 shooting, while Jamie Weisner pitched in 16 points on 6-8 shooting. Marie Gülich provided a solid performance off the bench, garnering a career-high 14 points with eight rebounds and two blocks.
Wiese is one of the team's leading scorers and best facilitator with averages of 12.9 points per game and a team-high 5.3 assists per game, and her loss is one that will sting. According to several media reports, Wiese sustained the right hand injury against Tennessee and will likely be out of commission for three to four weeks. She was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Katie McWilliams, who played well in her absence.
Wiese's absence was quite evident in the first quarter, as OSU (8-1) struggled early with ball movement and could not hit their shots.
Their first quarter points mostly came by being aggressive, as the Beavers took eight free throw attempts and made eight of them. They pulled out a 12-8 1st quarter lead despite shooting 27.3 percent from the field.
Following a similar trend of many of OSU's preseason opponents, Cal Poly (6-6) was extremely inept on offense, shooting 14-65 from the field in this game and looking completely flustered. OSU has been able to put the clamps down defensively early this season, and the game against Cal Poly was no exception.
Cal Poly was led by junior forward Hannah Gilbert, who shot 4-6 from the field for 11 points and also nabbed two steals. Outside of Gilbert, the Mustangs shot a ghastly 10-61 from the field.
The first quarter was close, but as soon as the shots started to fall for OSU Cal Poly was doomed. OSU stormed to a 14-0 lead to start the second quarter, looking more comfortable on offense.
Senior forward Deven Hunter played a key role in jump starting the offense in the second quarter, making a pair of easy buckets and completing a three point play during the run. Hunter, who had been struggling on the offensive side of late, finished the game with nine points on 2-3 shooting and a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line.
The OSU run put the score at 36-17 leading into halftime, and the Beavers never looked back.
The Beavers compounded their hot second quarter with a dominant third quarter in which OSU out scored Cal Poly 25-7. The OSU starters still got plenty of run in this one despite the game being in hand, with Hanson, Weisner and McWilliams playing well into the fourth quarter. Hamblin and Hunter only played 15 minutes apiece, as Rueck decided to give his front court some rest while the backcourt played the game out.
It was good to see the Beavers regain form on offense after the first quarter, as they looked frighteningly disjointed before putting it all together in the second quarter. They did well without Wiese against Cal Poly, but it may prove to be a different story once Pac-12 play rolls around on Jan. 2 against USC.
However, if the rough prognosis of three to four weeks holds true, in the worst case scenario Wiese should only miss about a third of OSU's Pac-12 games. Until then, head coach Scott Rueck will need to experiment with different looks and see what the Beavers have on the bench, particularly in McWilliams.
McWilliams, the reigning 6A player of the year in Oregon, was rough around the edges in her first start. She provided adequate defense and helped the offense flow with nine dimes; however, she also shot 1-6 from the field and had a couple of "rookie-mistake" type of turnovers.
Getting the young 6-2 guard heavily involved this early in the season could prove to be a blessing in disguise for OSU. Allowing McWilliams to polish her game through gaining experience could strengthen the second unit down the stretch once Wiese returns.
The Beavers will wrap up their preseason slate of games with a tough matchup against #3 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana next Monday, Dec. 28.