The Oregon State Beavers lost on Sunday, Dec. 13 to the Oregon Ducks, a 79-59 defeat that created a few troubling trends that have not plagued the Beavers Women’s Basketball program in quite a while.
The 20-point loss at the hands of Oregon State’s in-state rival gave the Beavers their largest defeat since the end of the 2018 season, when the team battled through the postseason as the sixth seed in the NCAA tournament all the way to the Elite Eight, before losing to the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals 76-43.
In the two full seasons that followed that defeat to Louisville, only six times had Oregon State lost by more than double digits, and never by more than 20. Losing in such a fashion to Oregon marked some unfamiliar territory for the Beavers, but losing in general to the Ducks has been an unfamiliar state as well.
Before Sunday’s loss, the Beavers had been in control of the rivalry against Oregon, and in particular at home. From the 2011 season through to 2018, the Beavers had pulled off 14 consecutive wins against their rivals. And even in recent seasons where the annual meetings against the Ducks have proven more competitive, Oregon State has managed to defend their home court well.
Now, after being swept by Oregon in 2019 and falling short in their first meeting of 2020, the Beavers have lost three straight against the Ducks for the first time since the 2010-2011 seasons, and have lost back-to-back games against the Ducks in Corvallis since the 2006-2007 seasons.
The tough loss against Oregon comes off the heels of a game against the Utah Utes which, while competitive throughout, also resulted in a loss. The small losing skid brought the Beavers record against PAC-12 opponents this season to 1-2, with a 3-2 record overall.
Oregon State, a recent powerhouse with six straight NCAA tournament appearances, three conference championships, two appearances in the Elite Eight and one earned invitation to the Final Four, all within the last decade, has not been a team with many worrying streaks since Scott Rueck became the head coach of the program in 2010.
Rueck, with an overall record with the Beavers of 231 wins to 107 losses, has not seen a season with fewer than 23 wins since 2013, and has only been a part of two losing seasons in the past ten years. But, even with Rueck’s track record for success, and the recent history of the Oregon State Women’s Basketball program, a 20-point loss against Oregon now has the team looking to snap a few recent problematic streaks.
However, in the midst of a season with 27 games on the schedule, two in-conference losses are far from enough to sink Oregon State’s 2021 campaign. Last season, the Beavers faced similar difficulties late in the year, losing four consecutive PAC-12 games before reeling off a four-game winning streak to end the regular season and finish ranked 16th in the NCAA Coaches Poll. And in a season with so much turnover and inconsistency, early-season struggles like the ones from a 1-2 start to conference play may have been difficult to avoid.
The Beavers have been tasked with replacing a healthy handful of key contributors from their 2019 starting lineup, as well as a few role players who have graduated from the team after their 2019 senior seasons. Longtime players like Kat Tudor, Maddie Washington and Janessa Thropay have moved on post-graduation, as has Mikayla Pivec, Oregon State’s all-time leader in rebounds, as well as the eighth-highest scorer in program history.
Losing four seniors from the roster, along with redshirt junior Destiny Slocum, who transferred from Oregon State following the end of the 2019 season, gave way to a 2020 roster with only two seniors who were with the Beavers last season, and eight underclassmen. The level of inexperience is made even tougher by the PAC-12 schedule, which saw four different teams ranked in the top ten in the preseason Coaches Poll.
Oregon State’s loss to Oregon puts the team in many unfamiliar situations given their recent history, but with the schedule and inexperience, those bumps in the road might have been tough to avoid this season. And with 19 regular-season games left on the schedule, they will have plenty of games to get on track.
The Beavers’ first opportunity to bounce back will come on Dec. 19 against the Washington State Cougars, for Oregon State’s first road game of the season. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. in Pullman, Washington.