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Without Wiese, OSU cruises past Cal Poly

CORVALLIS — Katie McWilliams found out before practice on Sunday that she would be in the starting lineup for the first time in her Oregon State career.

With starting point guard Sydney Wiese out indefinitely with a hand injury she suffered in the first half against Tennessee on Saturday, the freshman from South Salem was going to be needed to fill in for the foreseeable future.

Her first test came on Monday afternoon when the No. 11 Beavers welcomed Cal Poly to Gill Coliseum.

After a slow start offensively, the Beavers rebounded from Saturday’s loss to the Lady Vols with a smothering defensive performance and an 80-43 victory before a crowd of 2,716.

McWilliams, the state’s Gatorade player of the year last season, finished with two points, five rebounds and nine assists while playing 32 minutes in her first career start.

“It was really nice to get some reps in with the starting group," she said. "And then going into the game today I was a little nervous for sure but as the game went on I definitely got more comfortable. It’s just nice to have those people out there that I can get the ball to and can score for us.”

Coach Scott Rueck made the announcement after the game that Wiese will be out indefinitely, but that disappointment was overshadowed, at least for one day, by the performance of McWilliams.

He said he enjoyed getting to teach during the game and to see McWilliams excel despite running some plays that she hasn’t had the opportunity to run in game situations.

“It was awesome. Nine assists today, took care of the basketball, played like a veteran out there,” he said with a smile on his face. “… Just to see her mature as the game went on and get better and better was fun. I’m really proud of her. She embraced it.”

Cal Poly (6-6) put some pressure on McWilliams early but she was able to get stronger as the game progressed. She admitted she hadn’t faced that kind of pressure even when she did manage to play the point in high school or on her club team.

“It was never a lot of pressure and so I’m not used to that,” she said. “I know as time goes on I’m going to get more and more comfortable. I’m always working to get better at that.”

Oregon State got off to a slow start as the Beavers tried to adjust to not having Wiese, connecting on just 3 of 11 shots from the floor and turning the ball over six times in the first quarter.

Leading just 12-8 after the first quarter, the Beavers scored the first 14 points of the second to push the advantage to 26-8. They took a 36-17 lead into the intermission as they hit 9 of 18 shots in the period.

The Beavers took command by scoring the first nine points of the third quarter and used a 25-7 advantage in the period to put the game away.

Gabby Hanson led the way offensively with 19 points and six rebounds. She hit 7 of 15 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3. Jamie Weisner added 16 points and seven rebounds and Marie Gulich had 14 points and eight rebounds.

“We started to knock down shots for sure and once we got our offense going I think we just gradually became more and more comfortable,” Hanson said. “And then just seeing how well we were defending them and getting them frustrated, it just made us more comfortable with our game.”