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Beavers must move on after losses

SEATTLE — Oregon State was riding high just over a week ago.

The Beavers were poised to end a long losing streak to Stanford and wrap up an outright Pac-12 women’s basketball title in the process.

But the Cardinal handed Oregon State its first home loss and denied the Beavers the outright title for about 45 hours, when they rebounded and beat California.

Then came Friday night when OSU suffered what would have to be called a bad loss based on Colorado’s 14-16 record entering the game.

The top-seeded Beavers fell behind early, then looked to regain control only to falter down the stretch in an unexpected 68-65 setback at KeyArena.

Could this be a negative trend or just another tough lesson to learn?

“Anytime you lose, you certainly need to look at things, no question,” coach Scott Rueck said after Friday’s loss. “You have a choice of making it a positive or a negative. This group has always turned those into a positive. That’s just obvious life lessons. So we’ve got to look at this and understand, hey, postseason basketball. These guys are fighting for their lives.”

Colorado was certainly fighting to play another day while the Beavers know they are in the NCAA tournament and will likely host the first two rounds.

“This team knows that they’ve got another day to live,” Rueck said. “No matter what happens, now it’s one and done from here on out. So when this team comes out with that mindset, like I mentioned last week and we’re the hunter, like we did against Cal the other day, and like we have most of this season, we’re a really good basketball team.

“When we take the foot off the gas pedal just a little bit, then teams have played with us. So I think it’s a great lesson. There is basketball to be played, and so we need to approach it the right way and learn from it.”

Being the hunter or the hunted doesn’t matter much now.

“I think you better just play the best possession you can,” Rueck said. “Honestly, that’s my perspective of it. With this team we’ve learned we’re going to get everybody’s A-game, and that’s a privilege to be in that spot. And this team for most of the season has handled that very well.

“We’ve seen everybody’s A-game. So you miss some shots, they have a great night, you lose. That’s all it is. So it’s like okay. What can we do to improve? Let’s move on.”

The players will have a little more than a week until they find out who they play next. The NCAA tournament brackets are released on March 16.

“I hope we’ll find a renewed energy in the basketball that’s ahead of us, because postseason play it’s anyone’s game anytime,” junior center Ruth Hamblin said. “We know who we are as a team, so resolidifying our identity and defense is going to be huge in the next few weeks of practices that we have, and I think that will be key for us.