Mikayla Pivec, 2016 graduate of Lynnwood High School, made a name for herself around south Snohomish County and the greater Puget Sound area with numerous athletic championships and achievements as a Royal.
Now an Oregon State Beaver, Pivec is on the verge of receiving even wider attention as a member of the school’s no. 8 nationally ranked women’s basketball team.
As a true freshman, Pivec has played in every Oregon State game this season and has been part of the team’s starting lineup since Dec. 20. She has averaged 7.4 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game this year, was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, and has helped the Beavers to a 29-4 record, a mark that may land Oregon State a no. 1, no. 2 or no. 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championships that begin March 17.
The seeding and brackets for the national championship tournament will be announced on Monday, March 13.
After a stellar high school career which included leading Lynnwood to a state basketball championship in 2015 and a state track and field championship in 2016, Pivec shows no evidence of fear at competing at the Division 1 college level.
“You don’t think of it as being scary, you just out there and play … and execute what you do in practice,” Pivec said.
The 5-foot-10 guard did admit that the college game moves much quicker that high school basketball, and that the college athletes she now competes against present tougher challenges for her than when she wore a Lynnwood Royals uniform.
“I think one of the biggest differences is the pace and how much stronger and faster the players are at this level,” Pivec said. “So I have to adapt my game a little bit and continue to work on my weaknesses.”
While at Lynnwood, Pivec picked up numerous high school basketball awards, including Player of the Year honors from Gatorade, the Associated Press and three area newspapers, plus MVP Awards at state and regional All-Star games, but she still sees aspects of her play that need improvement.
“There’s always things to work on – just continue to keep getting more comfortable shooting from the outside and handling the ball against pressure,” she said.
Pivec also wants to push herself to be more assertive when the ball in her hands, something OSU Head Coach Scott Rueck stressed with her earlier this season.
“He just said, ‘I trust you and be aggressive offensively,’” Pivec explained. “And I think that’s what will help the team most, me being aggressive offensively and not being timid out there.”
Pivec showed plenty of aggressiveness during the recent Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament held at Key Arena in Seattle. In Oregon State’s two victories in the tourney, Pivec was the team’s second-leading scorer (17 points in the Beavers’ 65-47 win over Cal on March 3 and 15 points in the team’s 63-53 victory over UCLA on March 4) and grabbed eight rebounds from her guard position in each game.
Even in the Beaver’s 48-43 loss to Stanford in the tournament’s title game on March 5, Pivec made the most of her opportunities with 8 points, with three-for-four shooting from the field and going two-for-two from the foul line.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Pivec said of playing in the conference tournament. “(There’s) a lot more fans here and the stakes are higher.”
Playing in front of friends and family near home certainly adds to Pivec’s enjoyment of the Pac-12 tournament, something she can look forward to throughout her college career as Key Arena is already slated to host the tourney through at least 2020.
The biggest adjustment for long-time Pivec fans is not only the change from wearing the gold and black of the Lynnwood Royals to the orange and black of Oregon State, but the number on that uniform.
“I’ve worn number 10 my whole basketball career,” Pivec said, “but a fellow teammate of mine, Katie McWilliams, wears number 10. So I thought I’d just take off the number 1.”
Pivec has another reason for now wearing number 0, based upon her adoration of a potential 2016-2017 NBA Most Valuable Player.
“I really like Russell Westbrook – he’s number 0,” Pivec concluded.
To watch Mikayla Pivec join teammate Sydney Wiese and Coach Scott Rueck in a March 3 press conference during the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament at Key Arena, click www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJDq4jvq2rw.
Mikayla Pivec 2016-2017 regular season stats
7.3 points per game
4.8 rebounds per game
24 minutes per game
21 starts in 30 games
Mikayla Pivec 2017 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament stats (March 3-5)
March 3 vs. Cal: 17 points in 35 minutes, 6-for-11 from field, 3-4 from 3-point range, 2-2 free throws, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
March 4 vs. UCLA: 15 points in 29 minutes, 5-for-12 from field, 1-5 from 3-point range, 4-5 free throws, 1 steal, 5 turnovers
March 5 vs. Stanford: 8 points in 28 minutes, 3-for-4 from field, 2-for-2 free throws, 1 steal, 3 turnovers
–By Doug Petrowski