FREEPORT, Bahamas – Samantha Siegner scored a career-high 14 points, Jamie Weisner posted her fifth career double-double and the Oregon State women’s basketball team cut a 10-point second-half deficit to just two, but No. 13 Penn State was able to fend off the Beavers at the Junkanoo Jam on Grand Bahama Island on Friday, 61-56.
The result handed Oregon State (4-1) its first loss of the season and set up a Saturday meeting with Florida at 10:45 a.m. PT. The Gators (4-3) dropped their matchup with Illinois State, 68-64, earlier on Friday.
“We’re never satisfied without a win, but I am really proud of the effort,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “A lot of people did a lot of growing up today and we fought like crazy. When Penn State took control of the game in the second half, we had a chance to lose our confidence and we didn’t. We kept fighting.”
Penn State (4-1), which closed the opening half on a 10-2 run, extended it out of the break to 22-3 and took a 10-point lead with 16:54 left in the game, 38-28. Oregon State whittled it down to four on Alyssa Martin’s layup at 12:04 (40-36) and cut it to three (42-39) on a Weisner 3-pointer at 11:33.
After PSU’s Talia East hit a jumper, was fouled and converted the free throw, Martin followed with her own old-fashioned 3-point play to again pull Oregon State within three. The deficit was trimmed further when Ali Gibson pulled down an offensive rebound, was hacked and made 1-of-2 from the line to make the score 45-43 with 8:52 to go.
Tough loss to a great Penn State team. Loved the way we competed & our level of intensity. That will/must be our staple. #GoBeavs— Scott Rueck (@CoachRueck) November 30, 2013
But the Beavers were unable to get any closer or regain the lead which they enjoyed for much of the first half, as Penn State continued to bend, but not break. The Lady Lions were up eight with four minutes left, 56-48, when Ruth Hamblin fought her way to the rim for a layup and was followed by a Martin 3-pointer.
Penn State answered that 5-0 mini-spurt with one of its own on a Maggie Lucas three and Ariel Thomas basket. Weisner knocked down her third 3-pointer of the game with 2:01 on the clock to make the score 61-56, but the frantic final 120 seconds did not see either team score. Penn State ended the game missing its final three shots during that period and OSU couldn’t knock down a couple of long-range attempts.
“Getting used to playing a team like this is new for a lot of people,” Rueck said of his team, which features nine underclassmen. “There’s a confidence level and a relaxed state you have to be in to shoot the ball well and we didn’t do that today. Penn State made all the plays they needed to win.”
The Beavers controlled much of the action in the first half, forcing error after Penn State error. OSU raced out to a nine-point lead on three occasions in the opening frame, the last at 25-16 with 2:52 until the break. Sixteen of Oregon State’s first 21 points were scored off of turnovers.
Both teams shot 31 percent from the floor and were nearly identical in the rebounding department, with PSU grabbing 45 to OSU’s 44. The Beavers had 26 turnovers to Penn State’s 21, but its bench outscored the Lions’ 25-12.
“Coach Campbell did a great job with this scout,” Rueck added. “We knew everything they were doing and there were no surprises. I was so proud of our defense, which was unreal today. They followed the game plan.”
Siegner’s 14-point effort eclipsed her previous career high of 12 from last Jan. 13 at Arizona State. She was an efficient 5-of-11 from the floor and also had seven rebounds. Weisner’s 14-point, 10-rebound double-double was her first of the season. Ruth Hamblin pulled down eight rebounds and also tallied three blocks for the fourth time in the season’s first five games.
“That’s what it takes at this level,” Rueck concluded of his team’s intensity on Friday. “We know that. We’re battling for the postseason every night and these games matter. I think this was one we can certainly grow from. We learned a lot about ourselves today.”