CORVALLIS — Dreams don’t go to die for Oregon State women’s basketball during their annual trip to Los Angeles, because the Beavers have plenty of trophies and NCAA Tournament memories during coach Scott Rueck’s eight-year tenure.
But the LA trip, well, let’s just say that Oregon State has done what it’s done in spite of the annual visits to USC and definitely UCLA.
No. 10 Oregon State (12-2, 2-0 Pac-12) is bound for Los Angeles this weekend, playing the Bruins on Friday and Trojans on Sunday.
Only once in seven previous trips to Los Angeles have the Beavers swept UCLA and USC. Oregon State has come home with an 0-2 record three times.
The Beavers rarely beat UCLA on the road of late. Under Rueck, OSU is 1-6 at Pauley Pavilion. Most of the time, it’s not even close. Four of the six losses were by double digits. Last year was the worst, an 84-49 beatdown for an Oregon State team that was good enough to make the Elite Eight.
Oregon State has a better record under Rueck in games at women’s basketball blueblood Stanford than at UCLA.
To call this weekend a barometer of where things are headed probably isn’t accurate. Two of Oregon State’s three Pac-12 title teams lost at UCLA.
The reason for the lack of success is simple.
“Great players, at both places,” Rueck said.
Last year, Oregon State sustained two of its four Pac-12 losses in Los Angeles when it couldn’t handle pressure from UCLA and USC. The Bruins and Trojans combined to force 48 turnovers against OSU. USC was able to wipe out a 17-point second-half deficit by causing 27 Beavers turnovers in a 65-61 win.
Though Oregon State is tied for the early Pac-12 lead heading into the weekend, the Beavers are far from a finished product. They’re still trying to figure out their inside game after playing the past several years with dominant posts. Defensively, it’s there most of the time, but not enough to satisfy Rueck.
Maddie Washington has started the past eight games as OSU’s post, but she’s undersized at 6-foot-1. Joanna Grymek, a 6-8 senior, has shown flashes of becoming an offensive threat, but rarely stays on the floor for more than a couple minutes at a time. There’s also a long-range possibility in 6-7 freshman Patricia Morris, but she’s still learning the college game.
“We’re getting close, but it’s not where I want it, and it’s not where it will be at the end of the season,” Rueck said. “The Pac-12 level, it’s more physical. Once that comfort level sets in … They’re learning at a different level, and be what they can be offensively, they can give us more than we’ve asked. But we need more productivity, and we’ll look for more.”
Statistically, Oregon State is among the Pac-12 leaders in the important defensive categories. But focus occasionally wanes, and that has to get better in Rueck’s mind.
“We’ve had stretches where we relax, and we have stretches where we’ve been phenomenal,” Rueck said. “We need a little higher standard overall at that end.”
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Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News