The season doesn't stop, not even for injuries.
After the unfortunate season-ending ACL tear to starting power forward Kennedy Brown, the No. 11 Oregon State Beavers (19-5, 7-5 Pac-12) will need to move on without her.
The 6-foot-5 Brown had started all 23 games of her freshman season before tearing her ACL in the first quarter against then-No. 19 Arizona State. She'll end a promising freshman season averaging 6.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in 27.7 minutes. She was also second in the Pac-12 Conference in blocks at the time of her injury.
She's the second Beavers forward to be done for the year following the loss of junior forward Taya Corosdale with a hamstring injury in the WNIT.
"Whenever someone goes down it's really hard and to hear that [Kennedy Brown] is out for the rest of the season was honestly heartbreaking. ...We've been through a lot this year and it's really crazy to think about but to see someone else go down and is out, it was really tough to hear," said junior guard Aleah Goodman.
That's a lot of production and size to replace for Oregon State, which means her teammates will need to step up.
"Obviously when someone else goes down everyone else's minutes go up and rise a little bit," Goodman said. "And it's on us to rise and play better to try and fill that role. ...We just have to be better."
Goodman has stated that rolling out a small ball lineup will be in the plans in the wake of Brown's injury since it'll mean getting their best players on the floor and will increase their scoring. Her coach Scott Rueck agrees:
That's a dynamic offensive team to be able to put out four guards out there, three of which have played the point in their career around any of our post players, that's a hard thing to defend. Especially since they can all play off the bounce as well, all of them they're attacking guards.
The small ball lineup of Destiny Slocum, Mikayla Pivec, Aleah Goodman, Kat Tudor and Taylor Jones will close most games, and that lineup will have four players at 6-feet tall or lower. They may need to blitz teams with three-point shooting or Jones exploiting the open space in the paint to stay afloat, however, Rueck thinks that group is improving on defense.
"I think we really showed growth defensively with that group because they had to rise. I thought we rebounded better than we had previously with that lineup. ...But I like that look from us, at least in spurts."
Another player that will need to step up is senior Maddy Washington, who found herself out of the rotation with the arrival of freshman bigs Brown and Taylor Jones. Now she'll return to the rotation including an addition to the starting lineup on Sunday against No. 12 Arizona. She performed well in the overtime loss playing 28 minutes, grabbing 11 rebounds and scoring six points.
"She's so smart so she's someone that's capable of rising to roles, the four or the five. Maddy's a senior, I think we're feeling that senior presence. We have all year but especially this weekend she really played well and she'll continue to," said Rueck. "You know she's going to have the opportunity."
Look for her and Jones to play the five position while Rueck plays mostly guards around them. Against Arizona, despite both starting Jones played 27 minutes and Washington had 28. That may change going forward as Rueck said he's still tinkering with the rotations at both postgame press conferences this past weekend.
The small ball lineup may mean being a little undersized, but it helps when they have senior Mikayla Pivec, who's one of the nation's best rebounding guards at 9.7 per game.
Pivec played a little bit of the four this weekend when needed, and the Beavs may rely on a zone defense more than in the past to mask their size.
Other players that will step up include senior forward Janese Thropay, who has played the four many times in her career and freshman guard Jasmine Simmons, who played 15 minutes against Arizona hitting her only three-point attempt.