CORVALLIS, Ore. – Former Oregon State women’s basketball standout Mandy Close, a four-year letterwinner from 2003-06 who led her squad to three postseason appearances and has spent the past five seasons on the coaching staff at Montana State, has returned to her alma mater as an assistant, OSU head coach Scott Rueck announced Thursday.
“This is a special day for our program as we bring Mandy Close back to Oregon State women’s basketball,” Rueck said. “She is a dynamic young coach who gave everything she had to this program as a student-athlete and now returns to do the same in the role of assistant coach. She understands the benefits of an OSU education and the value of the community of Corvallis. As a professional, Mandy has proven to be the same driven competitor she was on the court and has become an outstanding recruiter and technical coach. She is the perfect fit for our program.”
A native of Bozeman, Mont., Close has honed her coaching skills on the bench at Montana State for the last half decade, helping the Bobcats finish with a .500 record or better each year and aiding in the development of 12 All-Big Sky honorees. With Close, MSU players have also earned two nods as the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, a Big Sky Newcomer of the Year selection, 33 Big Sky/Mountain West All-Academic picks and one choice as a Kodak/WBCA All-America Honorable Mention.
At MSU, Close handled an array of responsibilities from recruiting, game strategy, scouting, guard development and community service. She also filled roles as the coordinator of the Bobcats’ offense, defense and academics.
“I’m honored and humbled to be able to come back to the university that I have so much pride and love for,” Close said. “Coach Rueck has given me an amazing opportunity. Oregon State is very near and dear to my heart and I see great potential here for championships. Scott and the rest of the staff have put a great foundation in place and I’m very excited to add to what has already been established.”
This past season, Montana State made its seventh consecutive Big Sky Conference Tournament appearance, finishing with a 17-13 overall record. The Bobcats were fourth in the league in scoring margin (+2.3) and second in steals (10.9/game).
During the 2011-12 campaign, MSU held opponents to 28 percent from 3-point range and 37 percent from the field. That season the team was also first in the Big Sky in defensive rebounds per game, averaging 30.4 each contest.
As the Bobcats’ point guard coach, Close developed MSU freshman Ausha Cole into the Big Sky Conference leader in assists to turnover ratio as well as the leading 3-point field goal percentage shooter in 2010-11.
Prior to the 2010-11 season, Close was instrumental in the development of two-time Big Sky All-Conference point guard Erica Perry. Under her direct supervision, Katie Bussey had an impressive debut season and was named Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in 2008-09. Bussey went on to be selected as a First Team All-Conference performer and broke a number of school and conference scoring and shooting records in 2011-12.
The Bobcats’ academics have also been steady under Close’s supervision. MSU’s team GPA has been nationally ranked by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) three times during her tenure. Montana State was 11th in that category in 2011-12, 12th in 2010-11 and an fourth in 2008-09.
Close is returning to Corvallis where she spent four seasons as a player (2003-06) and two as the program’s assistant director of operations (2007-08). A two-year team captain, she played in 121 total games at OSU and ended her career with an outstanding senior campaign, averaging 13.3 points and dishing out 149 assists as the Beavers advanced to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).
During that senior season, Close scored in double figures 23 times and led the Beavers with 4.8 assists per game, second in the Pac-10 and 46th in the nation. She played 3,423 minutes over her four-year career, including every minute in 16 games as a senior.
She is one of just four guards in Oregon State history to pull down 100 rebounds in back-to-back seasons. Her 289 career assists are 11th in program history and her 149 in 2005-06 are the fifth-most for any OSU senior. Close’s 84 career 3-point field goals also place her 11th in the Beaver record books.
Close was also a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic honoree and a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selection in 2005-06. She had her most memorable game in a Beaver uniform on Jan. 25, 2006 in a 63-61 Civil War victory. On that night Close scored 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting against the Ducks, including going coast-to-coast for the game-winning layup with 3.4 seconds remaining.
Like Rueck, Close has earned two degrees from Oregon State; one in human development and family sciences and the other in elementary education. At Bozeman HS, she was a two-time basketball all-state selection, four-time track all-state selection and a volleyball all-state selection.
Close’s appointment fills the coaching space vacated by Megan Dickerson, who recently relocated with her family to Central Oregon.