They danced, danced some more, and danced even more. A look back at Oregon State's season.
Stakes set high following last season
A previous 31-5 record season. A second place finish in the Pac-12 conference. A NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. The Oregon State Beavers had big shoes to fill following the 2016-2017 season, lead by their star Sydney Wiese.
Not only were these big shoes filled, but grew bigger for next season. The Beavers began to turn heads once again during the preseason and regular season, consistently being in the top-25, finished fourth in the Pac-12 despite a not-so-great performance at the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle, WA, and took the nation by surprise with quite the upset back-to-back wins at Tennessee and at Baylor during March Madness.
Let’s take a look how it all happened…
Take a bow, Marie Gulich
The lone senior on this young Beavers squad. The German native showed dominance and consistency throughout the entirety of this season. Despite sitting behind other, older players throughout her four years at Oregon State, Gulich still played in all games starting her freshman year, earned a starting position her junior and senior season.
Her brilliant career ended averaging just shy of a double-double 17.5 points per game, 9.2 rebounds per game, and totaled 91 blocks.
Behind Gulich’s dominance down low, that opened up space on the outside for hot-shooter Kat Tudor the space to drain three-pointers. Gulich would face several double teams throughout the season, but she would either fight through it or pass the ball out to Tudor, Katie McWilliams, and Mikayla Pivec.
The Beavers cruised to a 14-4 conference record with notable wins over both the Oregon Ducks and UCLA at home.
Despite the Pac-12 tournament, Beavers still dancing
With a 14-4 conference regular season record, the Beavers earned the 3-seed and first-round bye heading into the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle, WA on March 1-4.
Unfortunately, Oregon State would only play one game and lost to the No. 6 seed Arizona State Sun Devils 57-51.
Not a strong showing for the first post-season tournament, but their season was far from over. The Beavers went dancing into the NCAA March Madness, earned the No. 6 seed in Lexington region, and cruised to an 82-58 win over Western Kentucky in the first round.
Here is where the madness took over…
The Beavers headed to Knoxville, TN next to face the No. 3 seed Tennessee Volunteers. A powerhouse program that proves its dominance year after year. Oregon State would have to come in firing on all cylinders, and they did. The Beavers, lead by their guard-play from McWilliams and Pivec each scoring 15 points, defeated the Volunteers 66-59, advanced to the Sweet 16 for back-to-back seasons, and arguably the most notable, snapped Tennessee’s 57 home-win streak in post season play.
But the maddness didn't stop there... On to the No. 2 seeded Baylor Bears.
It was Marie Gulich time. The senior, playing in her last college tournament ever, stepped up BIG and delivered a 26-point game and one rebound shy of a double-double for the Beavers. Tudor also had a nice game finished with 16 points off 4-of-8 from three-point range. Another victory over a higher seed, a 72-67 win over Baylor, a Baylor 30-game win streak snapped, and let the water bottles dump and spray everywhere in the locker room. The Beavers were dancing their way through the Lexington region.
Could Oregon State pull off one more upset? Could they defeat No. 1 Louisville for a trip to the Final Four. Unfortunately, the Beavers' post-season run ended here. The Cardinal defeated the fearless Beavers and the run came to an end with a 76-43 defeat.
The future is bright in Corvallis, OR
A season for the books is complete. What started off as a constant rise, a minor Pac-12 tournament faulter, and then ending March Madness in dramatic fashion, it is now time to take a breath.
Or maybe not for Oregon State. Let's take a moment as to what the future looks like in Corvallis for Oregon State women's basketball:
The returners: Everyone from this season except for senior center Marie Gulich. That is some good news for head coach Scott Rueck. Notable returners are the starters guard Mikayla Pivec, Katie McWilliams, Kat Tudor, and Taya Corosdale. Another name to keep an eye on is freshman Aleah Goodman, who averaged 6.3 points per game and saw consistent minutes off the bench for Rueck.
The incoming recruits: How does a 5-star, 6' 9" forward sound? Really good. Well that is exactly what the Beavers are getting this next season from Andrea Aquino. Ranked No. 7 overall and No. 2 in her position group, Oregon State needed some height and strength down low with the departure of Gulich, and that is exactly what it got. Also coming in is 3-star 6' 7" forward Patricia Morris, adding even more height down low, and 3-star guard Jasmine Simmons who played on the Australian national team since 2014.
Lots to look forward to for Oregon State basketball.