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No. 9 Arizona-Oregon State delayed indefinitely due to COVID protocols in Beavers’ program

After a COVID-19 pause, the No. 9 Arizona Wildcats were set to return to the court in Corvallis, Oregon, and take on the Oregon State Beavers. Now, Oregon State is on pause due to COVID-19 protocols. Here’s what might have been.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 06 Women’s - USC at Arizona
Aari McDonald, a nominee for multiple national awards, brings the ball up the court for the No. 9 Wildcats.
Getty Images

The rematch between the Arizona Wildcats and the Oregon State Beavers scheduled for Friday, Feb. 5, has been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19-related protocols within the Beavers’ program.

The No. 9 Arizona Wildcats (11-2, 9-2 Pac-12) were set to take the court Friday evening for the first time since Jan. 22 after the postponement of three contests due to COVID-19 protocols. Now, their return will have to wait, as the Oregon State Beavers (6-5, 4-5 Pac-12) enter a pause for the same reason.

Not keen to let a perfectly good game preview go to waste, here’s what might have been:

Prior to their pause, the Wildcats had won three-straight games, including on Jan. 17 at home against the Beavers, 67-51. A career-best first half of 15 points from sophomore Helena Pueyo helped Arizona establish a comfortable, insurmountable lead. Aari McDonald then carried ‘Zona the rest of the way, scoring 20 points.

The senior dynamo, at 18.8 points per game, is second in the Pac-12 in scoring. McDonald also is beginning to accumulate nominations for multiple national honors. Within the last week, she was named to the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 and the Ann Meyers Drysdale Top 10 Watch List.

In their Jan. 17 victory, the Wildcats held the Beavers to their lowest scoring output of the season, in large part because of McDonald, who also has been named to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watchlist.

By leading Arizona to a fourth-straight win, McDonald not only will strengthen her position for these various honors, she will, more importantly, solidify her team’s status, both in conference and nationally. With a win, Arizona will keep pace with No. 5 UCLA (8-2) and No. 6 Stanford (12-2) in the Pac-12 standings, while also maintaining their place in the top 10.

Nevertheless, Oregon State does possess the ingredients necessary for a potential upset.

The Beavers are the Pac-12’s best 3-point shooting team. If they have the deep ball working, they certainly can threaten the Wildcats. Senior Aleah Goodman, who is the latest Pac-12 Player of the Week, leads the conference in 3-point shooting percentage, converting a sparkling 51.7 percent of her 5.5 attempts per game. Redshirt junior Taya Corosdale and redshirt senior Ellie Mack are shooting nearly 40 percent from behind the arc.

Oregon State also has reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Sasha Goforth. In last Sunday’s 84-74 win at Utah, Goforth registered her first career double-double, with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

However, in the earlier matchup against Arizona, Goforth was held scoreless, missing all eight of her shot attempts in a season-low 19 minutes of play. The freshman must make an impact on the action for the Beavers to hang with the Wildcats.


CANCELED

Oregon State Beavers (6-5, 4-5 Pac-12) vs. No. 9 Arizona Wildcats (11-2, 9-2 Pac-12)

When: Friday, Feb. 5, at 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, OR

How to watch: Pac-12 Networks

What to watch for: Arizona’s ability to win the possession battle is one of the many reasons they’re tough to beat. On offense, the Wildcats take care of the ball, surrendering fewer than 13 turnovers per game. On defense, they poach the ball from opponents, securing a conference-best 10.3 steals per game. Aari McDonald has snagged 2.5 steals per game, while Sam Thomas has tallied 2.2 per game. By dominating the defensive glass, Oregon State can end Arizona’s possessions, and begin to tilt the ball control equation to their advantage. The Beavers lead the Pac-12 with 30.5 defensive rebounds per game, with Taylor Jones averaging 5.2 defensive boards and 7.5 total boards.