The 10th ranked Oregon State Beavers Women’s basketball team heads back to Gill Coliseum to host the Arizona Wildcats in game 18 of the season. Tip-off is slated for 7 PM PST on Friday, January 18th. Go to the game in person or check out the team’s Twitter page for ways to follow along live. Let’s take a closer look at the Wildcats.
Arizona (13-3 overall, 3-2 conference)
Last season: 6-24 overall, 2-16 in PAC-12 (11th), no postseason
As you can see from the records above, just halfway through the season Arizona has already doubled their win total from a year ago. What sorcery is this? There must be something brewing in the program that currently sits at fifth in the standings. Head Coach Adia Barnes appears to have this team on the right track to get back to tournament for the first time since 2005.
The Wildcats nearly made it through their non-conference schedule unscathed, but a two-point loss at home against Loyola Marymount gave them their first loss. In PAC-12 play, they have two losses against Utah and Stanford, both one-loss teams. Their most notable wins come against 19th-ranked Arizona State and previously ranked California.
While they don’t move the ball around like Oregon State (Arizona ranks last in conference in assists), they are an opportunistic team. The Wildcats lead the league in steals at 9.8 per game and in opponent turnovers at 18.6 which does not bode well for the Beavers. They are also second in the conference in opponent shooting percentage, just behind Oregon State at 35.7%
Who to watch
#2 - Aari McDonald, Sophomore Guard
The PAC-12’s leading scorer is also the number three scorer in the nation at 25.6 points per game. She has scored 30-plus in five games this season, including three of the last four PAC-12 contests. Back in their second game of the season, the former Washington Husky scored a career high 39 against Loyola Marymount while going 20-of-23 from the charity stripe. McDonald is going to score some points on Friday, that’s guaranteed, but will the Beavers be able to minimize the damage?
#14 - Sam Thomas, Sophomore Forward
Though undersized for a forward at 6’0’’, Thomas can do some damage on the boards. The former All-PAC-12 Freshmen Team member averaged seven rebounds a game a year ago, while also leading the team in in field goal accuracy, blocks, and steals. Now that McDonald is in the picture, some of the load is off of Thomas’s shoulders.
#25 - Cate Reese, Freshman Forward
A McDonald’s All-American while playing high school hoops in Texas, Reese came into Arizona with much hype. She lived up to those expectations during the non-conference slate where she nearly averaged a double-double with 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Since conference play has started, she has cooled off averaging just 4.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in five PAC-12 games.
Arizona appears to have the kind of defense that could give Oregon State some real trouble. Unfortunately for Arizona, they have to play against Oregon State’s defense. This will be a close game. Free-throws may decide this one. Beavers win.