Women of OSU are on the rise


It's early, but Oregon State may finally have a better women's team than Oregon.

As the Beavers and Ducks prepare for Saturday's Civil War game Ñ 7 p.m. at McArthur Court in Eugene Ñ OSU sports one of its best Pacific-10 Conference starts ever at 3-1 and Oregon has slid to an 0-4 start for the first time since 1995-96.

Judy Spoelstra's Beavers -(9-4 overall) have been surging since gaining the eligibility of 5-9 junior Shannon Howell, a transfer from Nebraska. Howell is averaging 22.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the four Pac-10 games, including 32 points at Stanford. Her 15 free throws against USC broke a 24-year-old record.

OSU leads in the Pac-10 in 3-point shooting (.402). Center Krystal Turner leads in field-goal shooting (.672). And the Beavers have solid seniors in Leilani Estavan, Hollye Chapman and Brina Chaney.

Estavan needs 40 assists to become the all-time OSU leader; she's already become the first Beaver with 900 points and 500 assists. Chaney needs five more blocks to become OSU's all-time leader.

The Ducks (8-6), meanwhile, have fallen on hard times since the loss of Cathrine Kraayeveld to a knee injury for the second year in a row. With her, they were 5-0; without, they're 3-6, and losers of five in a row.

Oregon has shot less than 40 percent in six of the nine games and dropped to 57 points a game without her. The Ducks had 44 turnovers last weekend against USC and UCLA.

Some bright spots: Transfer point guard Corrie Mizusawa leads the Pac-10 in assists (6.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5-to-1), and Andrea Bills leads in points (12.2) and rebounds (8.4).

Portland's Jessie Shetters, a 6-6 Wilson grad, has started in Kraayeveld's absence.

Oregon had a run of eight consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 1994-2001, won the NIT title in 2002 and then dropped to 12-16 in coach Bev Smith's second year last season.

The Ducks have won 16 of the past 20 Civil War games, but the teams have split meetings the past two years.

Here's a look at the state's other two Division I women's teams:

Portland: The Pilots were -4-8 headed into this week's scheduled West Coast Conference home games against Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The UP-PSU RiverCity Rivalry game scheduled for Tuesday was postponed because of weather; it'll be made up at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Chiles Center. É Center Khalila O'Rielly Williams continues to set the pace, averaging 15 points and seven rebounds, with Ashlee Orndorff averaging 12 points. É The Pilots are averaging 20 turnovers and are being outrebounded by an average of three per game, while shooting just .403 from the field.

Portland State: The Vikings' best player, Sarah Hedgepeth, will miss six weeks with an injured left wrist. She was averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds. É The Vikings were to play host to Brigham Young at 2 p.m. Saturday, then begin Big Sky Conference play next week. É PSU (3-9, including 0-5 on road) shot 30 percent against Pepperdine in its last game. É Heidi Stuart averages 12.6 points and Jane Gowans 10 points. É The Vikings average 21 turnovers and shoot just .200 from 3-point land.

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