This Friday at 8pm the No.7 Oregon Ducks (17-2, 6-0) will head to Gill Coliseum to begin their back-to-back home-and-home series with the No.18 Oregon State Beavers (13-4, 4-2). Although the Ducks are the road favorites, history is not on their side. The Ducks have lost 13 straight games to their in-state rivals and Coach Kelly Graves has never beaten the Beavers.
Gill Coliseum will hopefully be a packed house, as both fan bases have been turning out in high numbers, and the thoughtful scheduling will help both teams gain a lot of momentum if either were to sweep the series (good PAC-12 scheduling? Weird. What's next? Actual refs?)
Let's take a look at three of the Beavers' most impressive players:
Freshman Taya Corosdale joined the team after a sensational high school career that ranked her No.6 in the nation among forwards. At 6'3 she should be able to provide some rebound support, which will be much needed against this especially tall Duck squad. She could also add a lot of pressure to the Ducks' defenders if she shoots the three like she did against Arizona, in which she shot 3 of 5.
Marie Gulich from Cologne, Germany is Oregon State's most valuable player and has been an unstoppable force in the post. Coach Scott Rueck will attempt to get as many minutes possible from his 6'5 Senior, who has played in every game while at Oregon State. Gulich leads the conference in blocked shots (11th in the country at 51) and is averaging 18.5 points in PAC-12 play. Possibly the most intriguing matchup of the game will be between Gulich and Oregon's Ruthy Hebard. Both are in the top four for field goal percentage in the nation, though Hebard's 68.5% is slightly better than Gulich's 67.4%. The team that finds a way to slow down this productivity will have a great shot at winning.
The recent success of the Beavers is in no small part due to the steady shooting of Sophomore Kat Tudor. She is a 45% three-point shooter for the season and leads the PAC-12 with three-pointers per game at 3.1. Her most impressive games were against Washington State and Arizona where she shot 7 of 14 and 6 of 8 from downtown. It could be telling that the Beavers' only two conference losses have come from off-shooting nights by Tudor in which she scored under 3 points.
On paper the Civil War appears to be a great matchup. When adjusting for conference games only, the Ducks are second in scoring offense (76.5) while the Beavers are second in scoring defense (61.2). The Beavers are second in field goal defense percentage (.376) followed closely by the Ducks (.390) at third best. And to make things more interesting, both are tied at the top for field goal percentage (.479).
Comparing recent opponents doesn't seem to make things any clearer; Oregon State beat the Wildcats (88-48) who Oregon at times struggled with while Oregon dominated the Sun Devils (74-64) who Oregon state had to sneak by (57-54).
The Beavers are hoping to continue a string of success that has led them to three straight PAC-12 Championships while the Ducks are hoping to win their first in more than 17 years.
Of course what the Beavers don't have is Sabrina Ionescu...
Let the games begin.