Seventh ranked Oregon St. suffocated USC Saturday afternoon, pulling away for a 68-35 win over the defending Pac-12 Tournament Champions. It was the lowest point total ever for the Trojans, who were held to 25% shooting, including 11% (1 of 9) from 3 point range, against the Beavers.
Meanwhile, Jamie Weisner was having another huge day, rolling up a game high 21 points, after sinking 5 3 pointers in 10 attempts.
The game was a close contest early, and a low scoring one, with both teams playing well defensively, and absolutely awfully offensively. When USC's Brianna Barrett sank a 3 pointer, which would be the only 3 pointer the Trojans made, with just over 9 minutes to go in the first half, it tied the game at 13 apiece.
That was as good as it would get for USC though. Ali Gibson answered with Oregon St.'s 4th 3 pointer of the first half, which put the Beavers ahead for good, and Ruth Hamblin followed with her only basket of the first half to open a 5 point lead.
Courtney Jaco's jumper with 7:23 to go in the first half pulled USC back within 3 points, but that was also the Trojans last points of the half. Oregon St. ran off 9 straight to the break, 7 of them by Deven Hunter, above, to take a 27-15 lead to the locker room.
USC lost the first rematch of last year's Pac-12 Tournament Championship game by only 10 points, 76-66 to Oregon St. back on January 5th in Los Angeles.
But any ideas about the Trojans rallying today were totally eliminated right at the start of the second half.
The Beavers, and specifically Weisner and Hunter, came roaring out of the locker room, combining for 12 more points, including 3 more made 3 pointers, in the first 4 minutes of the second half, opening the lead to 39-17, and it was effectively over.
"I love the focus we played with today, especially defensively," said Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck. "Credit to USC for disrupting our offense early in the game. I loved the way we finished the first half, and the way we came out in the second half."
Oregon St. went on to make it a 13-0 run, while USC went without scoring for nearly 6 minutes, and it was 45-17 Beavers, with Oregon St. in position to trade baskets for minutes for over 12 minutes, which meant Coach Rueck got plenty of minutes for all or the reserves.
That Oregon St. would win, possibly even in controlling fashion, was not something that anyone would have found all that surprising, even to USC and their fans. But had anyone said the Beavers would lead the Trojans by 32 midway in the second half with only 4 points from Hamblin, that person would have immediately been referred for therapy.
That was the case though, and even after an array of Oregon St. substitutes started cycling into the game, USC still couldn't cut into the lead, and the Trojans trailed by as much as 35 before the Beavers settled for the 33 point win.
In addition to Weisner's dominant day, Hunter had a double double, with 15 points, and a game high 10 rebounds.
Hamblin, though held to 4 point, was still a dominant force, and just missed a double double, with 8 blocks, 4 in each half, including a rejection of Barrett, above, and 9 rebounds.
Kaneisha Horn led USC, the only Trojan in double digits, with 10 points, and Alexyz Vaioletama, USC's leading scorer, was held to only 4 points.
The defensive adjustment of the game came early, after USC had hit a couple of baskets by rotating a shooter to the right side of their set, as the weak side, where there was no Oregon St. player to pick up the shooter in the vicinity of the free throw line extended. Oregon St went to more high post defense, and it ended the only offensive threat that had hurt them all game.
Oregon St. shot over 46% from the field, including 42% on 3 pointers, making 10 of 24, and also out-rebounded USC by 12.
Oregon St. improved to 19-1, and 9-0 in the Pac-12, both their best starts ever, and remain alone atop the conference, 1 game ahead of Arizona St., who won 68-60 last night at Colorado, and Stanford, who came from behind in the second half to pull away from Washington St. for a 75-56 win.
USC dropped to 11-9, and 3-6 in the Pac-12, after losing their 4th game in a row, and 7th of their last 10.
The Trojans will visit Oregon Monday afternoon, while Oregon St will host UCLA (8-12, 4-5) Monday evening at 7 PM.
The Ducks came back after being down double digits to down the Bruins 67-65.
Oregon St. needs to get better balance in their offense, as it wasn't just Hamblin who had an off day offensively; Sydney Wiess only scored 2 points. The Beavers did get 8 each from Gabriella Hanson and Marie Gulich off the bench.
But Weisner is playing at another level of late, and the defensive performance was the Beavers best of the season, matched only by the 35 points they allowed Concordia back in November, and that's an NAIA program. As with any kind of all-time record in any Pac-12 sport, the significance of holding USC to an all-time scoring low should not be overlooked.
Cue the fight song!