The Beavers are the newly crowned Preseason WNIT Champions, and before the banner can even be raised (do they raise banners for preseason tournies? They should), the season is set to start in earnest. First up, we’ve got the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah coming to Corvallis. Here’s what to expect.
Southern Utah Thunderbirds (3-1)
- Head Coach: Tracy Sanders (2nd Season)
- Top Performer: Rebecca Cardenas (19.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.8 APG)
- Points For: 71.8
- Points Against: 64.5
- Last Game/Streak: 72-68 OT Win vs UNLV (1W)
- Conference Affiliation: Big Sky
After going 8-23 last year, Southern Utah looks to have improved in the offseason. They’ve picked up some solid wins, including a great overtime upset of UNLV. They’ll face by far their toughest test of the season when the travel to the home of a top 5 team.
The win over the Rebels, and most of the wins this season, was powered by Senior Guard Rebecca Cardenas. Cardenas has been the team’s best perimeter shooter, and is also contributing a lot of rebounds and assists for the T-birds.
SUU runs a three guard lineup, so Cardenas will be joined on the court by Harley Hanson and Claudia Armato. Hanson was the team’s leading scorer last season, but has taken a backseat to Cardenas so far this year, with only 10.8 points per game. Armato has managed only 3.5 points per game. Both women have had problems with poor shooting, particularly from beyond the arc; Hanson is 4 for 15 on threes, and Armato is 2 for 16, though Armato has been excellent at setting up assists. She has 22 so far.
At Forward, Freshman Shalyn Fano has started every game. Currently she has 6.5 ppg and 5.3 rebounds per game, and should improve as she gets more experience at the college level. For the second forward, SUU has tried out three names as starters. Jessica Chatman, Ashley Larsen, and Darri Frandsen. Chatman got the start in the win over UNLV, but only got 1 point and 3 rebounds, so it wouldn’t be shocking for the team to switch back to Ashley Larson.
With most of their forwards around the 6’ 0” range, the Thunderbirds are going to have a hard time matching up with Taylor Jones and Kennedy Brown. Combined with the poor shooting in their guard unit, there’s a strong possibility Oregon State could run away with this one early. Still, there is one thing to be cautious about. Southern Utah generated 26 turnovers against UNLV, and that has been the Beavers Achilles heel for years.
Player to Watch
Ashley Larsen (Forward - Redshirt Senior)
I think one of the big questions for this game is how Southern Utah deals with Taylor Jones and Kennedy Brown, and I think Ashley Larsen is going to be the lynchpin of their strategy. Larsen has led the team in blocks the last few seasons, and has a strong defensive presence in the post. With Jones’s explosive start to her OSU career, it’ll be tough for Larsen to keep up, but that appears to be the most interesting battle on the court.
- Date: Thursday, November 21st
- Time: 11:00 AM PT
- Location: Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, OR)
- Coverage: Pac-12 Network