Corvallis, Oregon. -- One might think that Oregon State women's basketball players and coaches would still be riding a wave of adrenaline following a win over no. 2 Oregon in front of over 9, 604 fans. But on Wednesday, the Beavers first practice back ahead of hosting USC and UCLA, there was instead a subdued energy and renewed focus from head coach Scott Rueck and his athletes. While a Civil War win is always a cause for excitement, there are still two weeks worth of conference games and no reason to coast now.
"We learned a lot, that's what's going to make things easier, if that's even possible," Rueck explains. "What's difficult this week is shifting from Monday night right into a short week which is gonna be strange. We're meeting for the first time today after our game and saying 'it's Wednesday' instead of Tuesday. It's the first time all year we've done that."
Scheduling aside though, the Beavers renewed focus also comes from their newfound confidence in their post play. Senior center Joanna Grymek and freshman forward Patricia Morris exceeded expectations in both Civil War matchups and are primed to start hitting their stride at the perfect point in the year.
Grymek in particular shined in the first game vs. Oregon, going 6/7 from the field while grabbing 5 rebounds. Morris had 4 rebounds in each game against the Ducks, helping the Beavers immensely off the glass.
"I think they've really realized how big a presence they are on the team," mentions guard Destiny Slocum. "Nobody wants to see 6'9 and 6'7 on the floor, I don't even want to see it in practice half the time. These games were really important for them to kind of find themselves and be like 'yes I can. I can be like this consistently every single game.'"
With two sets of games left before the Pac-12 tournament, Oregon State will take on the southern California schools first at home before heading to Arizona and Arizona State on a road trip to end the regular season. The old cliche in sports is coaches talking about peaking at the right time, and while it may appear the Beavers have turned a corner since their 17 point loss to Stanford, there may still be some ceiling left to tap.
Sophomore guard Aleah Goodman is one such player primed for a breakout, following a 12 point effort against the Ducks on the road before exploding for 22 in the return matchup at Gill Coliseum. Since notching a season high 25 points against Colorado, Goodman has averaged 14.6 points in the month of February.
"Coach Scott has really been going into us that we're a good team, we're an elite team," Goodman says. "I think evyerthing has been confidence based. And just relaxing, playing our game and doing what our coaches prepare us to do."
Oregon State takes on USC on Friday, February 22nd at 6:00 pm.