When you just played three games in less than five days, including facing No. 2 Stanford, getting home can cure what ails you. Arizona women’s basketball hopes that’s the case when it hosts Oregon State on Friday evening.
Like Arizona, the Beavers have gone yet more dramatic changes in the offseason. Players left. Players arrived. The results for OSU have been decidedly mixed.
The Beavs have spent years in the top half of the conference standings. Three games into Pac-12 play, there are questions about whether that will be the case again this season.
Overall, Oregon State is 9-5 against a challenging schedule. The Beavers played No. 19 Duke, No. 16 Iowa, and No. 7 LSU before conference play started. They have already faced No. 18 Oregon and No. 12 UCLA in Pac-12 competition.
It’s an impressive schedule with one big caveat. OSU went 1-4 in those games and even the 77-72 win over UCLA last weekend has an asterisk next to it.
“Well, UCLA was down Charisma [Osborne],” said Arizona head coach Adia Barnes. “So, UCLA not having one of their best guards, it is a factor. I think if you lose one of your best players, it is a factor.”
The Beavers played Oregon tough to start Pac-12 play, but they also lost to a USC team that is playing well for a squad that has nine new players this season.
OSU is led by sophomore Talia von Oelhoffen who is scoring 16.6 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting. She is third on the team with 5.7 rebounds per game, as well.
Von Oelhoffen has taken 76 of her 180 shots from beyond the 3-point line but is only hitting 32.9 percent of them. It’s not just a problem for their leading scorer. Efficiency from beyond the arc has been a problem for the Beavers as a team this season.
OSU is connecting on a mere 28.8 percent of its 3-point shots. The last time the program had a 3-point shooting percentage below that was 2012-13 when the team was successful 28.5 percent of the time from 3. The Beavers have only shot below 30 percent from outside for an entire season three times going back to 2009-10. If they do not raise their percentage this season, it would mark the fourth.
Fortunately for the Beavers, they have an effective inside threat in freshman Raegan Beers. She is second on the team with 14.9 points per game, the only player besides von Oelhoffen who is averaging double figures. She is not far from averaging a double-double with 8.6 rebounds to go along with her points.
Beers’ rebounding numbers put her second on the team in that stat, as well. She trails only redshirt sophomore Jelena Mitrovic. Like her younger teammate, Mitrovic is not far removed from a double-double with 8.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.
The Beavers are getting help on defense and the boards from former Wildcat guard Bendu Yeaney. Yeaney announced at last year’s senior day that she would be returning to Arizona for her final season. Approximately two weeks later, she was in the transfer portal and landed closer to her home in Portland, Oregon.
It turned out to be the best move for Yeaney, who was near her family when her older brother Jonathan Dunbar was shot to death in Portland in early October. The sixth-year player was able to be near her loved ones as they grieved and sought justice in his death.
Barnes said that she was grateful that Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck called her when the tragedy happened. She said that most coaches would not have done that, so she appreciated him letting her in on the news in order to help Yeaney.
“I think everything happens for a reason and God works in mysterious ways to do things to put you in the right place at the right time,” Barnes said. “So, I think for her that was what she needed. To go home and play near home for the first time in a long time in her career.”
Oregon State Beavers (9-5, 1-2 Pac-12) @ No. 15 Arizona Wildcats (12-2, 2-1 Pac-12)
When: Friday, Jan. 6 at 6 p.m. MST. This game was originally scheduled to be played at 8 p.m. MST but was moved up.
Where: McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.
TV: Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Oregon
Streaming: Streaming is available via the Pac-12 Now app or online. Both options require a subscription via a TV provider. Streaming is also available with a subscription to a TV package that includes the Pac-12 Network via Sling, Fubo, or Vidgo.
Radio: Listen to the call by Derrick Palmer online on The Varsity Network or on the radio at KTUC 1400 AM.
Stats: Arizona Live Stats
Rankings: Arizona is ranked No. 15 by the Associated Press and No. 13 by the WBCA. Oregon State is not ranked in either major poll.
Projections: Her Hoop Stats projects a win by Arizona regardless of where the game is played. In McKale Center, the stats service gives the Wildcats an 81.9 percent win probability. UA is projected to win by 10.8 points and the point total is projected at 133.8.