The Oregon State women managed to put aside their road woes with a tough fought victory over the Utah Utes 69-58. The final margin belies what was a back and forth battle between the two sides, as Oregon State struggled with turnovers, which have been their bane all season, and Utah was forced to rely almost entirely on star forward Megan Huff for scoring. Oregon State held out in the end though, turning a small lead into a big lead, and allowing the Utes only one point in the final two minutes.
The win brings the Beavers to 15-5 overall, and 6-3 in conference play, keeping pace with UCLA and Stanford in the race for second place behind Oregon. Utah slips to 14-6, 6-4 in the conference. This is especially heartbreaking for the Utes; after their recent string of victories they were starting to receive attention from the national polls, but this loss, and the prospect of another tough game against the Oregon Ducks on Sunday, could set back their hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament this season.
Turnovers have hurt the Beavers in all of their road losses this season, and for awhile it looked like they would contribute to another tonight. By the end of the game, the Beavers had committed 18 turnovers, allowing Utah to catch up whenever Oregon State began pulling away. To counter this, and recover some scoring opportunities, the Beavers stepped it up on rebounding, particularly offensive rebounds. Oregon State grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, and 29 defensive, for an incredible 41 total.
Marie Gulich was once again the Oregon State leader on offense, though she was restrained a bit tonight due to early foul trouble. Gulich finished 18 points, but her biggest contributions may have been on defense, where she blocked 6 shots.
Mikayla Pivec was also a big reason the Beavers managed the win tonight. Pivec scored 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, leading the Beavers in that second category. Pivec has been close to getting a triple double multiple times this season, if she can put in another few games like tonight, she’ll grab one before the year ends.
For the Utes, it was almost entirely a Megan Huff show. The forward finished with 26 points, nearly half of the Utah total. The only other Utah player to reach double digits was forward Emily Potter with 14. Only three other Utes scored in the game, an odd finish for a Utah team that is normally very good about balanced scoring.
Oregon State will face another tough road game when they travel to Colorado on Sunday. The Buffaloes have struggled this season, losing in their last four games to put them at 11-8, but the trip to Boulder is always hard on players, and the Beavers can’t afford to look ahead to next week’s games against Stanford and Cal.
It does not get easier for Utah, who now have to play Oregon on Sunday. It’s been a struggle for anyone in the PAC-12 to pull off a win against the Ducks and Sabrina Ionescu, only the Beavers have managed it thus far, and the Utes will be hard pressed to find a way to win.