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NCAAW what to watch: Missouri State stands in No. 7 Oregon State's way at Preseason WNIT

Cassandra Negley
Yahoo Sports Contributor
Oregon State's Mikayla Pivec is leading her team through a season-opening tournament test. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

It’s a quieter slate this weekend in women’s college basketball, which is probably for the best since next week we’ll all be gorging out on our couches with the holiday tournaments on TV.

If you’re already making plans (or excuses to get out of plans), the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands held Nov. 28-30 features No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Baylor, No. 6 South Carolina, No. 9 Louisville and No. 21 Indiana.

But for this weekend, the best time to stay in for the second weekend of action is Sunday afternoon with ranked teams on the schedule. Thursday night’s match-up of No. 16 Michigan State and No. 15 (for now) Notre Dame should have basketball fans excited for more.

No. 7 Oregon State vs. Missouri State

Preseason WNIT: Sunday, 4:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

The Pac-12 is stacked, so it’s easy to overlook Oregon State when Oregon is winning a historic game and Stanford is sending out star freshmen. It was the Beavers who swept the first Pac-12 weekly honors with watch-list candidate Mikayla Pivec winning player of the week following two double-doubles and Taylor Jones earning freshman honors.

Pivec had 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists Thursday night in a 98-77 win against No. 18 DePaul to put Oregon State into the Preseason WNIT championship game. Jones had a team-high 24 points with nine rebounds and three blocks and Aleah Goodman added 16 points, six assists and five rebounds. The team shot 55.7 percent overall, including 44.4 percent from 3-point range (12 of 27).

The Beavers will play Missouri State, a team that is not yet ranked in the AP Top 25 poll this season but has received votes and began the year by knocking then-No. 25 Minnesota out of it. The Bears had a tougher time in the semifinals, but held off Oklahoma 96-90 after trailing by 12 at the half.

Alexa Willard scored a team-high 29 points and Jenna Franklin had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Bears reached the Sweet Sixteen last year, but were picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference this year.

“I think we were a little disrespected,” first-year head coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton ahead of the season, per the Springfield News-Leader. “It adds fuel to the fire.

“We kinda have a chip on our shoulder. I think we have to prove ourselves.”

Exactly the type of match-up each team wants out of non-conference play.

[Here’s the full weekend schedule]

No. 5 Texas A&M at Rice

Sunday, 3 p.m. on ESPN+

Junior Chennedy Carter and her Texas A&M squad will get their first real test against Rice on Sunday and do it on the road. Rice received votes in the AP Top 25 poll and is fresh off the program’s first Conference USA championship. The Owls (2-1) are led by senior Erica Ogwumike, the younger sister of Los Angeles Sparks stars Nneka and Chiney, and senior Nancy Mulkey.

Ogwumike was named the conference’s preseason player of the year after winning it last season and is on multiple best-player watch lists. Mulkey led the NCAA last season in blocks per game (3.92), setting a Rice single-season record with 94. She was named the C-USA tournament MVP.

Texas A&M won the 2018 meeting 65-54 in College Station. Carter had 22 points and the Aggies had 26 points off of turnovers while shooting 42 percent in the first half to Rice’s 29 percent.

Ogwumike scored 12 points with eight rebounds and shot only 3 of 11 from the floor.

No. 19 Arizona State vs. Minnesota

Sunday, 4 p.m. Big Ten Network

Arizona State entered the season without its two leading scorers and leading rebounder after a Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA tournament. Kianna Ibis, Charnea Johnson-Chapman and Sophia Elenga all graduated and took 48 percent of the Sun Devils’ rebounds.

Minnesota will be their toughest test so far after a 31-point win over Air Force and a 32-point victory against Army. They out-rebounded the opposition 98-61 in those games, and improved at limiting second-chance points by holding Army to three offensive rebounds.

And Arizona State will be another good test for Minnesota (2-1). Senior Taiye Bello had her second double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) in as many games Thursday night against Milwaukee.

Delaware at No. 8 Maryland

Sunday, 2 p.m. BTN+

This match-up is worth a look-in to see how Maryland comes out after that close call against James Madison. The Terps came back from a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter and could still have lost it in the final minute.

“Uncharacteristic, out of rhythm, first time on the road and obviously still trying to find our chemistry,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said, via the Washington Post.

A second consecutive loss, this time to an unranked opponent, would have sunk the Terps. They’ve struggled in transition and on defense. From the South Carolina loss through the first three quarters against the Dukes, they shot 33 percent. (Maryland was 16 of 18 in the determining fourth.)

They’ve lost at home. They’ve nearly lost on the road. How will the Terrapins come out of the gate on Sunday, and will it fire them up to finish November?

Baylor without Lauren Cox; ranked teams await

The No. 2 Baylor Bears will be without Lauren Cox, the preseason AP All America senior, as she deals with a stress reaction to the second metatarsal in her right foot. Cox missed Thursday night’s 112-42 win over Houston Baptist and the school announced she “is expected to miss time,” the Spokesman-Review reported. It did not give any further information on the injury.

Cox suffered a bone bruise and MCL sprain that did not require surgery during the NCAA championship in April. She’s expected to be a top WNBA draft pick this spring.

Queen Egbo started in place of Cox against Houston Baptist and scored a career-high 21 points. Baylor has won its three games by an average margin of 71 points.

The Lady Bears will have their first real test of the season when No. 25 South Florida comes to town Tuesday. USF already knocked off ranked Texas. As UConn finds its way, USF could be the team to give the Huskies competition in the American Athletic Conference (AAC).

The Bears will also faced ranked competition at the Paradise Jam Tournament in the Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving. They’ll play No. 21 Indiana on Friday and No. 6 South Carolina on Saturday.

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