Oregon State plagued by cold shooting, turnovers as Beavers lose to Duke in Phil Knight Legacy women’s tournament

The Oregon State Beavers got behind early and never led in the final three quarters as they fell 54-41 to Duke in the third-place game of the Phil Knight Legacy women’s tournament Sunday night at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Oregon State (4-2) shot 26% for the game and committed 20 turnovers, numbers that are difficult to overcome despite a solid defensive effort that held Duke (6-1) to 35% from the floor. The Beavers made 2 of 19 shots from three-point range.

“We’ve had so much disruption already this year with injury and so many new faces, so these 80 minutes we were able to play this weekend didn’t go our way on the scoreboard but we learned a lot,” Beavers coach Scott Rueck said. “There’s reason for optimism and our best basketball is ahead of us.”

Raegan Beers, a 6-foot-4 freshman forward, made 4 of 5 shots from the field and led the Beavers with 11 points. Beers added six rebounds. Talia von Oelhoffen, who came into Sunday’s game averaging 20 points per outing, scored nine for the Beavers, who lost to Iowa 73-59 on Friday in the opening game of the tournament.

“Raegan is a star,” Rueck said of Beers being a bright spot on a tough night. “She’s got such an athleticism to her to go with the power. We would’ve liked to get it in to her more. But she gives us great energy offensively and defensively.”

Jelena Mitrovic led Oregon State with 10 rebounds but scored only two points on 1-of-7 shooting. Noelle Mannen scored a season-high eight points and added five rebounds.

“It feels a little disjointed,” Rueck said of his team’s offense, which is shooting 42% from the field and 23% from three-point range this season. “When it’s clicking it’s beautiful to watch, but right now it’s clunky. The ball’s just not moving, and that has a lot to do with getting familiar with each other.”

Celeste Taylor scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the second half for the Blue Devils, who had former Beaver Kennedy Brown in their starting lineup. Brown scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds. Ex-Beaver Taya Corosdale also plays for Duke, but she missed the game due to injury. Another former player, Aleah Goodman, is on the Blue Devils coaching staff.

Duke coach Kara Lawson said she had a discussion with Brown earlier in the day about the “elephant in the room” of facing her old team.

“Playing against your old team, you’d have to not have a pulse to not feel something,” Lawson said. “So I just let her know that those emotions are normal and you’re going to feel them.”

Rueck said he had coached against a former player only once — in 2004 when he was at George Fox.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Kennedy, and no matter what jersey she wears that’s never going to change,” Rueck said. “Between Kennedy, Aleah and Taya, they know our system better than probably anybody. So that was an added challenge tonight.”

Despite the offensive struggles, the Beavers trailed by six heading into the fourth quarter. But Duke started the final quarter with a 13-4 run to take its largest lead at 54-39. The Blue Devils scored 20 points off the 20 Beaver turnovers, and outscored Oregon State 17-5 on the fast break.

“We try to be a team that’s disruptive and I thought we did that for stretches in the game,” Lawson said. “I thought we did a good job on limiting their threes and we didn’t want to give (von Oelhoffen) clean looks.”

The Beavers return to action Thursday against Southern University at 11 a.m. in Corvallis.

— Scott Sepich for The Oregonian/OregonLive

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