In Oregon State's opening of their 2015-16 Pac-12 season, the Beavers were coming in off a solid non-conference season, which saw only two very close losses to top 25 ranked Tennessee and Notre Dame. On the other side the USC Trojans were coming in 12 and 0 in their non-conference play, but were coming in from a 78 to 73 loss to the UCLA Bruins in last Wednesday's Pac-12 opener for the Trojans.
Coach Rueck went with Ruth Hamblin, Jamie Weisner, Deven Hunter, and Gabriella (Gabby) Hanson. The Beavers though were still missing their starting point guard Sydney Wiese, which allowed freshman Katie McWilliams to get the start again. USC was also missing a key player in Jordan Adams who was the Trojans third leading scorer.
The opening minutes saw both teams pushing the offensive game, but also a bit of opening conference rust did show up at times with missed open looks and turnovers. Early on Oregon State was able to establish the inside game with Ruth Hamblin, and a 3-point basket at the 7:51 mark of the first quarter by leading scorer Jamie Weisner gave the Beavers a 9 to 3 lead.
USC's up-tempo play continued to press the Oregon State defense and with some strong rebounding kept the score close in the first quarter. The Beavs though ground away in-the-paint and behind strong play between Hamblin and Marie Gülich allowed Oregon State to take a solid 20 to 12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw Oregon State playing smart and aggressive defense, which also saw redshirt sophomore Breanna Brown getting substantial playing minutes. Behind a Jamie Weisner shot-clock beating field goal and big time 3-point basket the Beavs were able to go up 27 to 12 at the 7:08 mark of the second quarter. Oregon State kept up the defensive pressure throughout the quarter. USC had issues getting comfortable on the offensive side of the ball, their first points of the second quarter came at the 4:01 mark with a Brianna Barrett jumper. The Barrett basket that did open it up a bit more for the Trojans who were able to cut into the OSU lead. Then at the end of the half Kolbie Orum's nice turn-around jumper gave the Beavers a 29 to 19 advantage.
The first half saw Oregon State shooting 42.9% (12-28) from the field and USC shooting 22.9% (8-35). The Beavs hit just two of their seven 3-point shots and converted three of four free throws. The Trojans hit two of their three 3-point shots and converted one of three of their free throws. Additionally Oregon State had 26 rebounds to USC's 19, and OSU had 7 turnovers to SC's 3. Jamie Weisner led Oregon State with 12 points and Ruth Hamblin had 8 points. USC's leading scorer was Brianna Barrett with 7 points.
Oregon State was able to take advantage of a quick out of the half USC turnover to take a 31 to 19 lead, but USC came right back to pull back to a ten point margin. Ruth Hamblin though regained her control of the paint and was able to score the Beavers' first 6 points of the third quarter. Hamblin also reached her double-double early in the third quarter with double digits points and rebounds. A lay-up by Deven Hunter, off an excellent pass by Katie McWilliams, then put Oregon State up 37 to 23 at the 6:57 mark of the quarter. USC was not done though, and the Trojans continued to keep up their pressure to cut back into the Oregon State lead. Additionally, and maybe most importantly, Ruth Hamblin picked up her fourth personal foul at the 4:58 mark of the third. But Oregon State still took a slim 39 to 34 lead into the fourth, and final quarter.
The fourth quarter saw Oregon State come out flat and a quick score by USC off a Beavers turnover cut the OSU lead down to three points at 39 to 36. Deven Hunter finally broke the Oregon State drought and on a strong drive to the basket put the Beavs back up five points. The game continued to go back-and-forth as the two teams exchanged baskets, but behind a Temi Fagbenle basket USC was able to tie the game up at 41 to 41 at the 7:04 mark.
With Hamblin on the bench Marie Gülich stepped up her game to help the Beavs to hold off the up-tempo SC pace. A huge steal and lay-up by Gabby Hanson put Oregon State up 51 to 45 at the 3:24 mark, which opened up the game for the Beavs who behind a 10 to 0 scoring run were able to take control of the game in the last three minutes of the game. In the end the Beavers were able to sneak out of the Galen Center with an important 57 to 49 conference win, the 100th for Coach Scott Rueck at Oregon State.
Oregon State ended the game shooting 47.2% (25-53) for the game. USC shot 29.3% (17-58). The Beavers went 2 for 11 in 3-pointers, hit 5 of their 7 free throws, had 41 rebounds, and turned the ball over 15 times. Oregon State scoring leaders were Ruth Hamblin with 16 points (who also had 14 rebounds), Jamie Weisner followed with 14 points, and Deven Hunter contributed 9 points. Hamblin became the 20th player to score 1,000 points for Oregon State in the process.
On the other side of the ball USC hit 3-7 of their 3-pointers, made 12 of 17 free throws, had 30 rebounds, and turned the ball over 8 times. The Trojans scoring leaders were Sadie Edwards with 20 points and Brianna Barrett with 9 points.
The Beavers again struggled with the faster tempo play of USC, as well as struggled with turning the ball over, but Oregon State also showed their top ten ranked team depth and were able to pull away in the last four minutes of a very close game. Oregon State continues their Los Angeles road trip Monday evening and will face the #21 UCLA Bruins (10-3, 2-0) at 7:00pm. UCLA is coming off a strong 80 to 69 win over the Oregon Ducks.