Seniority, youth combine as Beavers top Bears to advance

Mikayla Pivec shoots for two of her 17 points against California. Photo by Karl Maasdam.
Mikayla Pivec shoots for two of her 17 points against California. Photo by Karl Maasdam.

The present and the future of the Oregon State backcourt was on full display on Friday at KeyArena.

Senior Sydney Wiese’s 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and freshman Mikayla Pivec’s 17 points led the Beavers as top-seeded Oregon State advanced to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals with a 65-49 victory over Cal.

“I love the resilience this team played with,” said Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck. “I thought they started the game in an incredible way with Syd starting it off scoring for us. And every time they made a run at us, we made the plays to keep them at bay.”

Kristine Anigwe led the Golden Bears with 26 points on a night when Cal shot just 32 percent from the field, a season-low.

The Beavers (28-3) jumped out to an early 11-2 advantage in front of a predominantly pro-OSU crowd, with seven quick points from Wiese, and led by 13 after one quarter.

Cal (19-13) responded with a 12-0 run in the second to get within four, but Oregon State took a nine-point lead into halftime. Golden Bears head coach Lindsay Gottlieb saw that stretch as a missed opportunity to keep the game closer.

“When we cut it to six and got five stops in a row, we couldn’t get a bucket,” she said. “So when we went on our run and won the second quarter by four, we could have won that by ten.”

The Golden Bears kept pace in the early parts of the third quarter, but went scoreless over the final six minutes (0-for-10 from the field), allowing the Beavers to extend their lead to 17.

Three times in the fourth, Cal cut the deficit to single digits — including a 7-0 run to start the quarter — but would ultimately get no closer than nine.

“They’re going to bend a little bit, but it’s tough for them to break,” Gottlieb said of the Beavers. “I thought we could have hit a few more threes, that might have changed the game. I thought we could have kept them off the free-throw line a little more and maybe changed the game and not put ourselves in such a hole in the first quarter.”

Pivec’s strong performance came in front of a hometown crowd. The Lynnwood, Wash. native said it was great to play in front of family and friends. But, she was quick to deflect praise for her outing to her teammates.

“My teammates set me up in position to be successful,” she said.

For the Golden Bears, who defeated USC 71-58 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals, a shaky 10 days await, as the team sits firmly on the NCAA bubble.

“I’m confident that that’s where we belong,” said Gottlieb on earning a Tournament bid.

Senior Courtney Range said the preparation over the next week doesn’t change, with the postseason guaranteed in one form or another.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to go back, practice, and whatever happens on the Selection Show happens,” she said.

Oregon State will play the winner of Arizona State-UCLA on Saturday at 6 p.m., as the Beavers try to lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and win its second straight Pac-12 Tournament title.

Dribbles:

Asha Thomas‘s 3-pointer at the 8:20 mark of the second quarter were the first non-Anigwe points of the game for Cal … Oregon State sweeps the season series against Cal 3-0, after winning both regular season matchups: 66-56 in Berkeley on Jan. 6, and 71-56 in Corvallis on Feb. 26 … Mikayla Pivec’s 17 points were two short of her season/career-high, Sydney Wiese’s 26 were one shy of her career-best … On average, Oregon State outrebounded opponents during the regular season by 11 boards per game, but finished tied with Cal at 37 apiece … Oregon State led for 39:27, the first 33 seconds of the game were scoreless … Kristine Anigwe set a Tournament record for scoring average (2 game minimum) with 30 points.

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