The Beavers travel north for their yearly trip to Washington this weekend. They’ll start off with a visit to Pullman to play Washington State at 6:00 pm PST on Friday, February 9th. The game will be aired on the PAC-12 Network, and you can also listen on Oregon State All Access or follow along on twitter. Here’s what the Cougs have been up to.
Washington State (10-14 overall, 3-9 conference)
In their first match up this season, at Gill Coliseum, Oregon State won 71-53. It was a game that was closer than it’s final score indicates; for most of the time, the lead was traded back and forth, but in the third quarter Wazzu’s shots went cold and the Beavers took control. For that game, the Cougars were without one of their best players, and one of the conference’s top scorers, Borislava Hristova.
Since then, Washington State has struggled in PAC-12. While they’ve picked up wins against Washington, Arizona, and Colorado, they haven’t looked like a team that can compete with the better schools in the conference. They sit in the bottom three for most statistical categories, including scoring, scoring defense, and rebounding margin.
Their top scorer, as previously mentioned, is Borislava Hristova. The redshirt sophomore forward is averaging 18.5 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game. She also has 27 steals so far this season, which could pose a problem for a Beavers team that has struggled with turning the ball over.
This is a game the Beavers should win, but it’s not without its pitfalls. Washington State already gave the Beavers a tough game earlier this year, and that was without their best player. While Washington State isn’t a top team in turnover margin, they’re not bad either; it’s one of the few categories the Cougars do alright, while the Beavers languish at the bottom of the PAC-12.
The way the Beavers lose this game is if Washington State brings a full court press hard and early, and picks off Mikayla Pivec a few times leading to scores. If Hristova can keep up with Marie Gulich and limit her scoring, and the Beavers shooting goes cold, the Cougars could build an early lead that Oregon State would have a hard time eroding.
That’s a worst case scenario, and hopefully one that doesn’t come to pass. I feel like Gulich matches up pretty well against Wazzu’s interior players, and should have a big game. As long as Kat Tudor and Katie McWilliams provide perimeter scoring options, and Pivec keeps the pace of the game in OSU’s favor while limiting turnovers, the Beavers should come away with a solid win. This isn’t a game they can look past, though, especially considering the struggles they’ve had on the road this year.