The 9th ranked Oregon State Beavers Women’s Basketball team hosts the 14th ranked Utah Utes in game 23 of the season. Tip-off is slated for 12 PM PST on Sunday, February 3rd. Watch it live at Gill Coliseum (c’mon, you’ll have plenty of time before the Superbowl), on the PAC-12 Network, or check out the team’s Twitter page for other ways to follow along live. Let’s take a closer look at the Utes.
Utah (#14 AP, 18-2 overall, 7-2 conference)
Last season: 18-14 overall, 8-10 in PAC-12 (8th), lost in second round of WNIT
The 14th ranked Utes come into Gill Coliseum after a tough match against the fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks. The Utes clawed back from a 13 point deficit to make things interesting and held a lead in the final minute of the third quarter. The Ducks ultimately squashed any thought of an upset with a 27-9 fourth quarter.
Utah has certainly earned their ranking this year. Not only do they own a .900 winning percentage, they have earned quality wins over BYU (ranked #25), Stanford (#8), and California (previously ranked). Sitting at 7-2 in the conference, they are currently ranked third in the conference, just behind the Beavers. This makes Sunday’s matchup crucial for conference pecking order and resume building as Head Coach Lynne Roberts (fourth year) looks poised to take the Utes to the NCAAs for the first time since joining the PAC-12.
Their statistics also support their conference placing as they are in the top three for shooting percentage, three point percentage, assists, steals, and blocks. They could also give the Beavers fits at the three-point line as they hold opposing teams to 30% from behind the arc.
Who to watch
#5 - Megan Huff, Senior Forward
Huff has raised her game to another level this season. After leading the Utes last season at 14.7 points per game, the First Team All-PAC-12 forward is now averaging 20.6 (fourth in the PAC-12) after a 38 point performance against the Ducks. She also leads Utah in rebounds with 9.7 per contest, good enough for second in the conference. In her only performance against the Beavers (last year), Huff scored 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Look for the former University of Hawaii standout to lead the Utes again.
#11 - Erika Bean, Senior Guard
While she may not have jaw-dropping point production capability like Huff, Bean can rise to occasion if needed. She outdid her season six point average with a 23 point game against the Cardinal to lead the Utes. She is also one of the better facilitators in the conference, averaging 5.3 assists per game and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.6.
#44 - Dre-Una Edwards, Freshman Forward
The freshman from Las Vegas is second on the team in points per game (if you don’t include Daneesha Provo who is out for the year after tearing her ACL against Arizona State) at 11.8. She is also second in rebounds behind Huff at seven per game. Don’t let her size fool you as she moves well and leads the team in blocks and steals. She’ll need to stay away from foul trouble if she wants to make an impact against the Beavers. Against Oregon, she fouled out while only playing 16 minutes.
This will be quite a showdown. Ultimately, I think this comes down to what Oregon State team we see. Will we see the hot shooting team from the last two Fridays where we saw the Beavers take down Washington and Colorado with high percentage shooting? Or will we see the cold team that played at Pullman last Sunday that managed to win because Washington State shot worse? Another thing to factor is will Madison Washington play after sitting out Friday due to illness? The Beavers need her back in the lineup to split minutes with Joanna Grymek and help out on Edwards, assuming Taya Corosdale has the tough draw of guarding Huff. Despite what will likely be another big night from Huff, I think Oregon State takes it by a slim margin.