The 9th ranked Oregon State Beavers Women’s basketball team wraps up the regular season against the Arizona Wildcats in game 30 of the season. Tip-off is slated for 2 PM PST on Sunday, March 3rd. Watch on the PAC-12 Network or check out the team’s Twitter page for ways to follow along live. Let’s take a closer look at the Wildcats.
Arizona (17-11 overall, 7-10 conference)
Last season: 6-24 overall, 2-16 in PAC-12 (11th), no postseason
Since these teams last met, Arizona has gone 4-7. Currently they are on a three game losing streak, but that’s against the likes of Stanford, California, and Oregon. Despite the losses, the Wildcats competed well in the Bay Area, nearly knocking off the seventh-ranked Cardinal in a two-point loss, and the Golden Bears in overtime. Against the Ducks, the Wildcats were within striking distance going into the final 10 minutes, but a scoreless fourth quarter (yes, that’s right) doomed their chances at an upset.
Despite the rough stretch, you’ve got to acknowledge the job Head Coach Adia Barnes has done in the desert. In her third season, she has more than tripled her team’s conference wins from a year ago and has guaranteed them their first winning record since the 2010-11 season. She is taking advantage of her team’s athleticism as shown with the 8.4 steals per game her team accumulates, second in the conference.
In Corvallis, on January 18th, Arizona made things interesting through the third quarter as they kept the score within 11 points. However, any hope of a potential upset were thorougly squashed by Destiny Slocum who nailed three straight three-pointers to start the fourth quarter.
Who to watch
#2 - Aari McDonald, Sophomore Guard
Just like she was six weeks ago, McDonald is leading the PAC-12 and third in the country at scoring 24.9 points per game. She has seven 30-point or better scoring performances on the year, including most recently in an overtime loss at California. The former Washington Husky also has a nose for the ball as she is third in the conference for steals with 2.5 per game. The Beavers were able to keep her in check in their last meeting by holding her to 20 points on 37.5% shooting, her sixth worst offensive game on the year.
#25 - Cate Reese, Freshman Forward
When we last saw Reese, the freshman forward was just getting adjusted to play in the PAC-12 play and had a breakthrough performance against the Beavers with an 18-point performance on 8-of-12 shooting. The former McDonald’s All-American was able to get her first conference double-double during a triple overtime loss against UCLA where she played a career high 37 minutes.
#14 - Sam Thomas, Sophomore Forward
Though she’s not the rebounding machine she was a year ago, Thomas is integral to Arizona’s defense. She leads the team with 33 blocks and is second in steals at 47. She is also the team’s third leading scorer at 9.6 points per game.
This game looks like it will be a bit closer than I was picturing earlier this week. The Beavers are coming off a dismal performance against the Sun Devils after going 3-0 in tough contests last week. Perhaps Arizona State just has this team’s number this year. You also have to take into account that every time Oregon State has lost this year, they’ve come back with a big win. Beavers get the win in Tucson to carry some momentum into the PAC-12 Tournament.