VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Oregon State found its Destiny at the right time Thursday night.
Destiny Slocum's big second quarter helped the ninth-ranked Beavers break open a tie game on the way to a 74-60 victory over Western Kentucky in the Vancouver Showcase.
"I thought we had a really good game overall," Slocum said. "We came out a little slow, but it's always good that we can pick it up. We have such a deep team."
Slocum and Mikayla Pivec scored 18 points apiece, and Katie McWilliams added 17 as Oregon State advanced to play No. 13 South Carolina in the semifinals Friday.
Oregon State (5-0) had blown out its previous opponents this season, but Western Kentucky (1-5) started strong.
"I think it's good for us, seeing that and facing that adversity and then being able to move on from that," said Slocum, who had five assists. "As a point guard, my job is setting people up, so I thought I did a good job of setting people up, and all the girls did a great job of taking shots and being in the right spots."
After being tested early, the Beavers took control and refused to relinquish it.
Oregon State shot 8 of 15 from the field in the opening 10 minutes, while the Lady Toppers went 8 for 17. But the Beavers outscored Western Kentucky 22-12 in the second quarter and led 41-31 at halftime. Slocum was an important presence, controlling the pace and scoring eight of her 12 first-half points in the second period.
"We switched to zone (defense), and I thought that was a little bit of a catalyst for us in that second quarter," Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. "(Slocum) just got a little more comfortable in creating and she got to the rim seemingly at will during that stretch in the second as we separated."
The lead changed hands several times in the first quarter, which ended in a 19-all tie.
By the end, Rueck was pleased the Beavers held the Lady Toppers 20 points under their previous low.
"I thought Mikayla Pivec and Katie McWilliams, our two captains, set the tone for us and made the plays we needed to get the win," he said.
Oregon State's inside game proved to be the biggest difference in the decisive first half as the Beavers outscored the Lady Toppers 26-16 in the paint.
New coach Greg Collins of Western Kentucky praised the Beavers for adjusting offensively after his club denied 3-point shooting opportunities.
"They got some easy layups, and that's what good teams do," Collins said.
Raneem Elgedawy paced the Lady Toppers with 17 points, and Dee Givens added 16.
"I thought if we would have made shots, it would have been a much closer game," Givens said.
But she took consolation in the fact her squad held Oregon State to its lowest margin of victory this season.
The Lady Toppers, she added, also delivered a better showing against the Beavers than in last season's NCAA tournament, when Oregon State breezed to an 82-58 win in the first round.
"This game was 10 times better than when we played them last year, because it seemed like last year they weren't missing a shot," Givens said.
Oregon State: Before this one, Oregon State had beaten all its opponents this season by at least 25 points.
Western Kentucky: The Lady Toppers have endured a slow start — albeit against tough teams — under Collins, a former assistant with the two-time defending Conference USA Tournament champions.
A pair of layups by Pivec helped turn the game in Oregon State's favor after an even first quarter. The first one put the Beavers ahead 27-24. The second one, off her own steal with 2:16 remaining before halftime, gave Oregon State a 38-31 lead, and the Lady Toppers never got closer.
LOVING THE RAIN
The Beavers received a loud cheer at the start from a throng of fans who trekked north to Canada. Rueck said his team felt at home upon seeing the rain in Vancouver and many orange jerseys in the crowd.
Oregon State faces No. 13 South Carolina, which advanced with a 101-55 victory over East Tennessee State.
Western Kentucky will tip off Friday against East Tennessee State on the consolation side.