So close. The Oregon State Women's basketball team had the nation's #1 ranking in their sights. They played a tremendous game last Friday in Tucson fending off the upstart Arizona Wildcats 63-61 improving their record to 15-0. The two teams above them, Connecticut and Oregon had both suffered losses. Now all they needed was a win Sunday at Arizona State and a number one ranking was a definite possibility.
However, Arizona State, the team that had knocked off the Ducks were ready.
Tremendous defense and a physicality that the Beavers hadn't seen this season paid off. Oregon State tied the game at 45-45 with 2:30 to go but then the Sun Devils score ten of the game's last twelve points and hand the Beavers a 55-47 loss. The perfect season is no more. But not making the nation's top spot and having a conference loss isn't the end of the world. Sometimes a loss can make you better, especially in the Pac-12, a conference that has so many talented teams.
The Beavers took a tumble in the rankings and in Bracketology. From #3 to #8 in the AP Poll and dropping to a #2 seed in the college basketball post-season projections.
I spent some time in Corvallis and talked junior Guard Aleah Goodman who is proud of her teammates and is positive despite the loss at ASU:
Goodman and her teammates like Destiny Slocum. Kat Tudor, Mikayla Pivec, and Kennedy Brown want to improve from one of the toughest games ever from 3-point range in Tempe shooting just 2 for 20 from behind the line.
Head Coach Scott Rueck isn't used to watching his team struggle like they did in Tempe:
But even though the Beavers struggled, Rueck's team showed him something in that second half against ASU even though they came up short:[
Now it will be fascinating to see how they respond Friday night at Gill when the Cal Bears come to Corvallis. Cal is 0-4 in conference play.and will be hungry to end that streak. After Cal the Beavers may be facing their toughest stretch of the season. #3 Stanford is Sunday and then next weekend the two epic Civil War games will be a huge Women's basketball story nationally. Goodman and the Beavers know every game in the Pac-12 is tough no matter if its Oregon for Friday's opponent Cal:[/
For Rueck , the next four games signify the fact that Oregon State's schedule is one of the most challenging in the country:
That is the nature of the Pac-12 with four teams in the Top Ten in the polls right now and six Pac-12 teams in the Top 25.
The Beavers had a setback Sunday in Tempe and now we get to see how they react to the adversity of their first loss of the season.
No doubt, Gill will be rocking this Friday and Sunday. The game against #3 Stanford Noon on Sunday will be close to a sellout.