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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona WBB heads back on the road to face Oregon State and Oregon in this week’s matchups

Jay Corella
Kailyn Gilbert of the Arizona women’s basketball team celebrates being named MVP after an exhibition game win against West Texas A&M University in McKale Center in Tucson on Wednesday, Oct. 25. Gilbert scored 24 points in the game, leading the Wildcats to a 103-58 victory.

The Arizona women’s basketball team is set for a challenging road stint this weekend, squaring off against Oregon State University on Friday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m., and then facing the University of Oregon on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 1 p.m. Following their impressive 71-70 victory over the former No. 15 University of Utah on Sunday, Jan. 7, the Wildcats aim to capitalize on their newfound momentum. This win not only marked Arizona’s first conference victory of the season but also secured their first AP Top-25 win. Buoyed by this success, the Wildcats are primed for another intense week of conference play, seeking to further improve their standing in the competitive Pac-12.

Oregon State (12-2) enters the matchup on the heels of a two-game losing streak, with their latest defeat against No. 2 UCLA on Sunday, Jan. 7. Currently holding a 1-3 record in conference games, the Beavers are eager to reverse their fortunes when they host Arizona. Meanwhile, Oregon (9-7) faces its own set of challenges, grappling with a three-game losing streak, the latest loss being to No. 9 USC on Sunday, Jan. 7. Winless in conference play at 0-3, the Ducks are determined to break the streak and notch their first conference victory when they take on the Wildcats this week. The upcoming matchups promise to be crucial tests for Arizona as they navigate the tough road ahead.

Game 1: Oregon State – Friday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m.

History vs. Oregon State  

In the all-time series between these programs, Oregon State holds a slight edge with a 39-36 lead. Over the last 10 matchups, the teams are dead even at 5-5. However, a noteworthy shift emerges when examining the home and away records. Arizona boasts a solid 22-15 record at home against Oregon State, but on the road, they hold a less than impressive 13-24 record—a factor worth considering for the upcoming away game. The last meeting between these teams happened on Feb. 25, 2023, resulting in a 78-70 defeat for the Wildcats on the road. As the Wildcats enter this matchup with a 2-1 road record, the Beavers have a  perfect 10-0 home record, adding an intriguing element that could significantly impact the outcome of the game.

Oregon State’s season

Head coach Scott Rueck, an Oregon State alumnus, took the reins of the women’s basketball program on June 30, 2010, marking a homecoming for him. Rueck has played a vital role in transforming the program, propelling it onto the national stage. Under his leadership, the Beavers have clinched seven NCAA Tournaments and secured three consecutive Pac-12 titles from 2015-17. Despite the unfortunate cancellation of the 2019-20 Tournament due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Oregon State’s consistent success includes four Sweet 16s, two Elite Eight appearances and a Final Four.

The Beavers commenced their 2023-24 season with an impressive series of victories. Beginning with an 85-74 win over the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, they went on to defeat formidable opponents like Villanova, the University of California, Davis and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Coach Rueck achieved a historic milestone during their fifth game, becoming the winningest coach in Oregon State women’s basketball history after a 79-53 win over Weber State University. The team continued their dominant run, securing victories over Western Kentucky, Jackson State, Santa Clara, Southeastern Louisiana, Texas Tech, Morgan State and their in-state rival, the University of Oregon. However, the Beavers faced their first setbacks with consecutive losses to No. 9 USC (56-54) and No. 2 UCLA (65-54).

Sophomore forward Raegan Beers is arguably Oregon State’s best player this season, leading the team in points, rebounds and steals with averages of 18.9, 11.1,and 1.1, respectively. In the most recent game against UCLA, despite the loss, Beers showcased her excellence with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting along with two assists. Her consistent high-level performance will be crucial as the Beavers face Arizona this week. Another key player, junior guard Talia von Oelhoffen, contributes significantly, ranking second in scoring on the team with an average of 10.5 points per game and leading the team in assists at 5.4 per game. In the recent game against USC, Oelhoffen was the second leading scorer with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists. As Oregon State prepares to take on Arizona, both Beers and Oelhoffen will need to be at their best to secure a win over the Wildcats. 

Game 2: Oregon – Sunday, Jan. 14, at 1 p.m.

History vs. Oregon  

In the upcoming 79th meeting between these programs, Oregon leads in the all-time series with a 46-32 advantage. The Ducks maintain the upper hand in the last 10 matchups, with a 6-4 record against the Wildcats. While Arizona holds a slight advantage at home with a 19-16 record against Oregon, a significant disparity arises on the road, where they have struggled with an 11-26 record. The most recent meeting on Feb. 23, 2023, saw the Ducks securing a dominant 73-59 win at home. Despite Oregon’s challenges this season, they maintain a 6-1 record at home, emphasizing their historical and current success on their home court. With this upcoming matchup also taking place at Oregon’s place, it adds an additional layer of competitiveness, evening out the scales despite the Wildcats’ advantages in other areas.

Oregon’s season

In his nine seasons as Oregon’s head coach, Kelly Graves has undeniably established a winning culture, solidifying the Ducks as a premier women’s college basketball program. Heading into his 10th season in 2023-24, Graves has been pivotal in shaping the Ducks’ success. The 2022-23 campaign marked Oregon’s second consecutive 20-win season, concluding with a 20-15 record and a WNIT Great 8 run. The Ducks’ solid track record, including seven 20-win seasons in the last eight years, attests to Graves’ impactful leadership.

The 2023-24 season kicked off with a resounding 81-48 victory over NAU, showcasing the Ducks’ early dominance. Despite a setback against Santa Clara in a blowout loss, Oregon quickly bounced back, securing wins against Nevada University and the University of Idaho. The Ducks faced challenging matchups, including losses to Baylor and Utah Tech, but also notched notable victories against Southern University and Oklahoma State University. As the Pac-12 play began, Oregon has experienced a tough start, falling to in-state rival Oregon State and nationally-ranked UCLA and USC

Sophomore forward Grace VanSlooten has emerged as one of Oregon’s top players, she currently leads the team in scoring averaging 15.8 points per game. VanSlooten’s all-around contribution includes being second in assists (2.6 per game) and steals (1.1 per game). In their recent game against USC, she showcased her scoring ability with a game-high 18 points and six rebounds. Another vital contributor to look out for is sophomore guard Chance Gray, the Ducks’ second-leading scorer, averaging 14.2 points per game and leading the team in assists, averaging 3.7 per game. The dynamic duo of VanSlooten and Gray is poised to play a leading role in the Ducks’ attempt to get back on track against Arizona, as they look to win their first conference game this season.

Wildcats to watch 

In the Wildcats’ latest matchup against the Utes, sophomore guard Kailyn Gilbert once again showcased her exceptional skill set, delivering a masterful performance that proved instrumental in Arizona’s 71-70 overtime victory over former-No. 15 Utah. Gilbert’s contribution was nothing short of spectacular, recording an impressive 22 points, securing 12 rebounds and sealing the win with two clutch free throws in the final second of overtime. This display of resilience and versatile scoring is a testament to Gilbert’s consistent ability to make crucial plays down the stretch, establishing her as a pivotal force in Arizona’s victories. Functioning as the team’s floor general, Gilbert has been decisive and effective, leading the Wildcats in scoring with an average of 16.1 points per game. Additionally, she has proven herself as a playmaker, currently tied for second in assists at 2.5 per game, and leads the team in rebounds with 5.8 per game. As Arizona aims for a 2-0 record this week, Gilbert’s offensive prowess and playmaking abilities will be crucial components on display.

Alongside Gilbert, fifth-year guard Helena Pueyo also played a significant role in Arizona’s win over Utah, showcasing her scoring prowess by knocking down 8 of 11 shots, including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, resulting in a season-high 20 points. However, Pueyo’s impact extends beyond scoring, as she contributes four assists and three steals in a well-rounded performance. Leading the Wildcats in assists with an average of 3.3 per game and steals at 2.7 per game, Pueyo’s value lies not just in her ability to score but also in her commitment to the finer aspects of the game. With only five games this season in double-digit scoring, Pueyo’s versatility shines through in her ability to impact the game in various ways, from setting up teammates to making crucial defensive plays. As Arizona looks to secure victories against Oregon State and Oregon, Pueyo’s tenacity, defensive contributions and all-around play will be vital elements in the Wildcats’ pursuit of victory.

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