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March 6, 2020

Scott Rueck

Mikayla Pivec

Destiny Slocum

Las Vegas, Nevada

Stanford - 68, Oregon State - 57

SCOTT RUECK: I was really proud of our team for battling how they did tonight. I thought, I mean they played a phenomenal second half to battle back and they just showed the heart that they have. It is a very, very special group and I'm very proud of them, playing very good basketball.

You have to give Stanford a lot of credit. They came out, set the tone shooting the ball so well right off the bat. Put us in a hole. I thought we pressed a little bit in that first quarter offensively as we tried to respond.

And, you know, give them credit defensively as well for making us uncomfortable. And so a lot of credit to them. And then Kiana seemed to make every play they needed to keep us at bay. So once again, you know, she seems to really enjoy playing against Oregon State for whatever reason.

But they did a great job on the boards. We outrebounded them the first two games, and they got us this game. We used our small lineup a lot. So that had something to do with that.

I loved the fight and the tenacity that we played with to give ourselves a chance to get back in this game. We had a shot to get it to five with a couple of minutes. So that just speaks volumes about who these people are, and I'm proud of them.

Q. Actually, for Mikayla and Destiny, what's your perspective on getting in the hole quickly and how hard it is to climb out of that, especially with such a big momentum push from them at the beginning of the game? And then also defensively what they were doing that was working?
MIKAYLA PIVEC: Yeah, it is never the start you want. We dug ourselves a big hole early, and you want to get out to the best start possible to give your team a great start to win the game.

When you're down, all you can do is chip away and try to make momentum and get as close as we can throughout the rest of the quarters. And it was a big fight at the end, but when we dig ourselves that big of a hole, it is hard to come back from.

DESTINY SLOCUM: Defensively we were getting the shots we wanted, we had to come off, hit those. I mean, take care of the ball. That was one big thing in the first half. So I don't think they really did a ton to disrupt us, we have to come off a little bit more confident.

Q. Scott, looking at what Cal was able to do last night, and Aleah has been such a threat from three as a spot-up shooter over the course of the season, what was it that they were able to do in the first half? Was that length on the perimeter? Closing out? Where were they able to be so disruptive when you were trying to spot up there?
SCOTT RUECK: If you've watched our games over the last ten years, you know that we take each other's strengths away for the most part. You know, they -- they choose to take the three away. They just chased us everywhere and hugged us all over the three-point line. They were committed to it. They didn't help off our shooters.

We have to beat them other ways. Taylor was limited tonight because of foul trouble. And so we didn't have an inside presence like normal. So then that made it tougher. And so that made us beat them off the dribble. And they're long, and they're good defenders.

And so these are two programs that's identity is built with just a stingy defense. And then efficient offense for the most part. So, you know, that's what we pretty much do to each other all the time.

You know, last time we played at their place, I got the same question, you know, a few weeks ago at Stanford. Then I just reminded people, you know, when Karlie Samuelson was playing a couple years ago, we chased her off of the three-point line. You have a shooter like that, she didn't get one attempt up that game.

And so we assumed that would be a focal point of their defense, not only based upon last night, but historically.

Q. One for Mikayla and one for Scott.
Mikayla, with the smaller lineup, one, what opens up, what do you see that's a good thing for you guys out there? And secondly, what are the additional challenges that you might face when you downsize?

MIKAYLA PIVEC: Yeah, challenges, rebounding, and then defensively I thought we did a pretty good job on guard versus post match-up, keeping their post out, but it is a mismatch, they tried to look at that. And I was proud of how we fought defensively.

But creating space offensively, trying to exploit their post on the guard match-up, and then spot up and shoot. And when they help inside, off of those post drives, when we drive, the posts are there, that's the advantage.

But, yeah, we didn't do a very good job of taking advantage of what they were giving us today.

Q. Scott, the opportunity for Madi because of injuries, how is the demand on her changed in this new role? What do you see from her now as you head into the NCAAs with her as your starter now?
SCOTT RUECK: She's dynamic. When Kennedy went down, she moved in the starting line-up. She was there a year ago at the five, you know, and this year moved back to the four and played some five as well.

So undersized certainly at this level to be a back-to-the-basket post player, but that's where she is. You know, she has the ability to knock shots down. She's one of the smartest players I have coached. She knows our system inside and out from both positions.

You know, tonight you saw her switch. We're able to manipulate defenses just a little bit differently and a little more flexibility with her out there because she's played some three in her time at Oregon State.

So she identifies as, you know, a wing to the five. So she makes us very versatile. And when she's playing energized like tonight and she's such a factor on the boards, she's dynamic look for us.

Q. Scott, tough loss, but Mik did something special tonight in becoming the programs all-time leading rebounder, and for roughly 80% of her career she's been a guard for you. I just wondered when you recruited her, you knew she was good, a big-time recruit, but did you ever imagine that she would do that as a rebounder?
SCOTT RUECK: That's incredible. Congrats, Mik.


SCOTT RUECK: An unbelievable accomplishment. And, no, I -- that's something -- I knew she was a great rebounder. That's one of the things that just stands out, you know, when I watched her, stood out when I watched her play high school ball, AU ball, my goodness, she has an effortless way of gliding around the floor and swooping in to get every 50/50 ball, it seems.

And it is just one of those things, you know, Jamie Weisner was on our team at the time, and I thought that Jamie was the best guard rebounder I had ever coached, just because of her effort and desire. And I'm like, I think Mik might be better.

I couldn't imagine coaching somebody that competed from a guard position harder for boards. And so here Mik is surpassing Ruth, you know, to be the all-time career rebounding at Oregon State. That's a phenomenal accomplishment, one that kind of defies logic, actually. But it doesn't, if you know Mik. She's just -- she has the hugest heart, and I think it's -- she's near the top of several categories statistically in Oregon State history.

But how cool that she's the career leader in rebounding, because it is the most selfless thing you can do. And that's who she is. I think it is very fitting.

Q. I have to ask a follow-up. Mik, you're pretty much emotional right now. Can you tell us what's going through your mind?
MIKAYLA PIVEC: Yeah. Just sad that we lost. The individual stuff doesn't really mean as much to me, just sad that our team doesn't get to play more in this tournament.

So couldn't do more for our team, and that's why I'm sad.

SCOTT RUECK: Unselfish.

Q. Scott, can you talk about having time off, being able to regroup, circle the wagons a little bit and still having hosting on the table and your case for why you think you'll still be in that mix?
SCOTT RUECK: I mean, I think if you look at the teams we lost to, we have one bad loss, you know, when you look at everything, and the way that team is playing now, it doesn't look quite maybe as bad as people think. And also the circumstances around that loss, we just had lost Kennedy. You know, that's a team that jams the ball to the post. It was a tough match-up in a tough time for our team.

I think everybody has seen how competitive we have been all year. You know, this team has been on the cusp of being ranked number one to pushing top ten teams to the limit all year long.

Now I feel, you know, we're playing great basketball. You know, it takes a top five team to beat us, it is kind of what it seems, or some odd circumstances. You know, so this team has been through the wars. We're playing our best. We're more prepared than ever. And the conference has done that for us.

So grateful for the battles. You know, and this team has a lot of talent, a lot of ability, and a lot of great times ahead. And so we're excited for that. It's going to be fun to see a team that's not a part of our conference. I think we're all excited about that.

Q. Scott, just to piggyback off of that a little bit, do you guys care where you go in the tournament besides being at home for the first three rounds? Does it matter which of the four regions you go to? Potentially, if you stay in Portland, you have to face Oregon, which would be a conference team --
SCOTT RUECK: Are they asking my opinion? Do I get a say in this? Is that how this is working?

Q. It's your chance to give your case.
SCOTT RUECK: I saw Jeff's comment today, so maybe he's choosing his spot, but, you know, I think this team deserves to be home, there's no doubt about that in my mind based upon everything to this point.

So that does matter to me, you know, that this team gets to compete on their home floor. I think it is deserved. And beyond that, you know, I can't -- I don't believe I get to pick my shot. You know, I'm excited to get -- to keep playing.

Q. Scott, I was going to bring it back to the game for just another second. Stanford is a little healthier than they were, even a few weeks ago, with Dodson back and Lacie Hull as healthy as she's been in a while. Does their depth become an issue later in the game, that they have the size and the length, but now they also are a really deep team?
SCOTT RUECK: I mean, I think that team is so deep that they have been deep even with injuries. I don't think it factored in tonight at all actually. I think if anything we look like the more energetic team down the stretch.

I thought our fourth quarter was phenomenal. I loved our energy. At this time of the year, you're not going to have back-to-back games other than, you know, conference tournament. So I think depth is a little bit overrated once you get into the tournament itself.

So conference tournament, though, I think it is a factor, ultimately. Three games in three days or four, I think depth absolutely can factor into that.

Once you get in the NCAA Tournament, I don't see it quite as much. It is nice -- I'm happy that their team is back to healthy, and Dodson really played well tonight.

Q. I know you would like to still be playing, at least you still have a week, week and a half here before you really get back into tournament play. Scott, you mentioned how much of a grind Pac-12 play is. Is it nice to at least kind of have some time to sit and reassess, get healthy, refocused ahead of the tournament?

MIKAYLA PIVEC: Much prefer playing.

SCOTT RUECK: No. We would rather be playing Sunday night. That would still give us plenty of rest.

Q. This weekend is International Women's Day, and I wonder if each of you would highlight a woman in your life or a mentor or model that's inspired you and please share their name, if you can.
DESTINY SLOCUM: I probably would say my mom, Christina. She's been my rock, you know, sacrificed a lot for me to have this opportunity, battled a lot, raised five kids pretty much on her own. So she's my -- my model for sure.

MIKAYLA PIVEC: You're next.

SCOTT RUECK: Well, I mean, the most impactful teachers in my life have been females. You know, I don't know if I responded better to female growing up, but they were just awesome.

So Mrs. Berry, Mrs. Day, Barb Customoano (phonetics) at Oregon State.

And then, you know, I can't not say my mom. I mean Mary Lou is here every night, you all know her. You know, I also had Mary Jamison, my grandma, and ElleMae Rueck (phonetics), all rocks in our family, all of them.

So my sister is the one, though, that taught me what a female athlete could do. I was -- she's four years younger than me. I go off to college, and, you know, I drug her out to the driveway for years, sometimes she wanted to be there, sometimes she didn't, sometimes it would end in two minutes and she would go running in the house mad at me and then right back out there five minutes later, but she became a state champion and All-State player and then NAIA All-American.

And she taught me what a female athlete could be. She cared more than any guy I ever saw, worked harder than any guy I ever saw. It taught me that a female athlete can -- it is just an athlete.

So that has shaped my perspective of how to coach and how to hold them accountable and how to hold them to what I know they're capable of. At the same time, you know, to love them and care and to build a relationship and let them know that, you know, I've got your back, but you can do more. They're like wow, you know, I can. That's what those teachers did for me. They showed me what I was capable of.

So I could talk a long time about it, as it sounds like, but that's an awesome question and I'm grateful to do what I do.

MIKAYLA PIVEC: I like to talk about Stephanie Tastad, my cross country and field and track coach in high school. She's somebody that is one of the most positive people there is, always looking for what she can do to help other people feel better or feel more confidence about themselves.

And she went to my high school as well. She was a state champion in cross country and track, and so she just is a role model in my life and somebody that I still keep in touch with.

Q. For Scott and the players, obviously you want to keep playing, but you're going to have almost two weeks off. How much better can you get in two weeks, Scott, do you think? Can you get a lot better in practice in that time? I know you'll take time off because their bodies need rest.
SCOTT RUECK: I think an example of that was two years ago, Marie's senior year, we had had a good run, third in that league or something, we adapted -- we changed actually quite a bit over that time. And that was our run, you know, where we beat Tennessee and beat Baylor, you know, we played our best basketball at the end.

That's what I think anybody who has watched this team has sensed. We ran into a buzz saw tonight, and you have to give Stanford credit. But this team has played good basketball over the stretch. I feel like we're in the best coach/player learning situation we have been in all year, the receptiveness in practice, the way that they're evolving, the way that they're communicating.

I don't know if you watched our time-outs, if anyone ever focuses on time-outs, to see how much input is coming from the team. That's my favorite thing. That's my favorite part of this job, is when everything starts to turn over to them. And that has happened more over the last couple of weeks, three weeks, once we have kind of gotten into a rotation now that's been sustainable for a while.

Our best is ahead. I think we can get not only better, but just I think we can maybe shift some things and give people different looks, and I think we're as mobile as we have been. I'm excited about that.

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