2020 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament

Event: March 5-8
Mandalay Bay Events Center

#6 Oregon State defeats #11 Washington State in Game 4 of 2020 Women's Basketball Tournament

By W.G. Ramirez

LAS VEGAS -- No. 14 Oregon State waited all day for its turn to play in Thursday's opening round of the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. And the Beavers wasted no time in establishing their dominance against Washington State.

Behind 57.1 percent shooting in the first half, the Beavers raced out to a 29-point first quarter and 53-28 halftime lead before cruising past the Cougars, 82-55. It was Oregon State's second win over Washington State in five days.

Oregon State, which had earned a bye in each of the prior six seasons, ended a two-year slump of losing its first game of the Pac-12 Tournament.

“I was really pleased with our focus," Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. "I thought this team was as focused as they have been all year. I loved our intensity. Defensively we disrupted them from the start. Offensively we were in attack mode, and this team really moved the ball well.”

While improving to 59-28 all-time against Washington State - including the last 13 meetings - the sixth-seeded Beavers earned the right to face third-seeded Stanford on Friday night. Oregon State lost both meetings by three-point margins to the Cardinal this season.

“We know our next opponent is Stanford, and if you don't play well against Stanford, you're not winning," Rueck said. "Tonight is over. It's on to the next game. And this is what we're going to have to do. We're going to have to play aggressive, we're going to have to play well, we'll have to have another focused great effort to win that game. That's the only option. There's no highs, there's no lows, there's just next play.”

Known for her 3-point prowess, Kat Tudor didn't disappoint. She drained 6 of 7 from long-range en route to a team-high - and season-high - 24 points. She finished 7-for-9 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.

“It felt really good, I should be making shots," said Tudor, who has started the last 12 games and returned to the floor Nov. 14 after missing the prior 23 games due to an ACL injury suffered against Washington State last season. "There are so many more things that go into making shots - the passes from our point guards or anybody else, the defense giving us momentum for the shot. Yeah, I should be making shots more. It felt good. It has been a long journey. Yes, felt good.”

Mikayla Pivec had 17 points and 7 rebounds, while Destiny Slocum chipped in with 13 points.

“It is a big momentum game for us," said Pivec, who is two rebounds shy of the Beavers’ career rebounding record. "Last two years, we have had really short stays - in Seattle my sophomore year and Vegas last year. When you lose, you have one and a half, two weeks of waiting, waiting, waiting. So we wanted to come out and give our best effort today.”

It didn't take long for that to happen.

Washington State was competitive until the 4:30 mark of the first quarter, when the game was tied at 10-all. From there it was all Oregon State, which used runs of 10-0 and 9-0 to set the tone, while Pivec punctuated the first quarter with a 35-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Oregon State carried its momentum into the second half by scoring the first seven points of the third quarter and took its largest lead at 60-28. The Beavers extended their lead to as large as 34 points and took a commanding 72-44 lead into the final quarter.

The Beavers improved to 4-0 in neutral-site games this season.

Oregon State, one of four teams in the nation to be ranked every week in the USA Today/WBCA Coaches' poll dating back to the 2013-14 postseason rankings, is also one of eight teams in the nation to make the Sweet 16 in each of the last four seasons.

Borislava Hristova led the Cougars with 19 points and finished her Washington State career with 2,269 points; she is the highest scoring basketball player in school history, men’s or women’s side.

Senior Chanelle Molina and sophomore Ula Motuga each had 10 for Washington State.

“These two players, I mean, obviously we have been really fortunate to be able to coach them the last two years," Washington State coach Kamie Ethridge said about Hristova and Molina. "It starts with that. They were two of the best players in the league for two years. "It says a lot about them and their legacy they leave behind as basketball players. What's most impressive about them is their loyalty and who they are as people and who they are as teammates and how much they have given to Washington State. It's, you know, that's the saddest part that we won't have that anymore.”

W.G. Ramirez is a Las Vegas-based freelance reporter and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.