The women’s basketball Civil War will take place this weekend, and while the Ducks hold a 59-39 all-time advantage over the Oregon State Beavers, it has been 13 games since the Ducks have been able to claim victory against their rivals from Corvallis.
“I know it’s been a long streak,” head coach Kelly Graves said. “But this team has never lost to them. That’s all I can care about. I don’t think we use last year as a barometer. In my three years here, they’ve been better than us.”
The Ducks haven’t beaten the Beavers since the Matthew Knight Arena opening game in 2011. However, the last several seasons, the Beavers have been one of the premier teams of the Pac-12. Last season, Oregon State secured its third-straight Pac-12 title and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The season prior, it won a school record 32 games and made its first ever Final Four appearance.
“They’ve set a really high bar for us to chase,” Graves said. “[Oregon State women’s basketball coach Scott Rueck] has done an amazing job there, and continues to do so … I anticipate this is going to be a series now where there’s national ramifications every time we play.”
The 2018 version of the Civil War will be the first top-25 Civil War since 1981, and could represent a shift of power of women’s basketball in the state.
This season, Oregon has a level of talent that matches up with the talent Oregon State has brought to the Civil War since Rueck’s hiring in 2010. Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu is averaging 21.8 points per game, which leads the Pac-12. Ruthy Hebard is averaging 18.7 points per game, which is fifth in the conference.
“I hear people on campus talking about it and it’s not often you hear people talking about the women’s basketball games,” Hebard said. “I know they’re excited and we’re even more excited to play them.”
Oregon State’s Marie Gülich ranks sixth in the conference in scoring with 18.5 points and is third in rebounding, collecting 8.8 per game. The Beavers lead the nation in three-point shooting percentage at 42.5 percent and are shooting 50.7 percent which is third in the nation.
“What they’re really good at, is that plus one pass,” Graves said. “They’ll kick it out and then make that next pass to the open shooter. We’ve got to keep them uncomfortable, and maybe put a lot more pressure on them.”
The Civil War has a unique feel to it, because the teams play twice in three days. The first game is in Corvallis at 8 p.m. on Friday, and the second game is on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.
“I personally don’t like it,” Graves said. “I wish we could find a way in the schedule to spread it out… I just think it’s kind of silly to play that closely together.”
Playing on the road against ranked competition is nothing new for the Ducks. They beat No. 19 Texas A&M on the road and lost to No. 5 Louisville and Mississippi State on the road in non-conference play. On Jan. 7 the Ducks took down the No. 14 UCLA Bruins as well.
“I’m excited to hopefully shut the crowd up and go out with a win,” Hebard said “I think we’re getting more used to playing on the road, winning on the road so this is going to be another great test to hopefully block out the crowd and just play our game.”
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter @zlast3445