WBB: Strong Second Half Squelches UP, 79-73

Photo By: Dave Nishitani/Oregon State Athletics   12-06-2013

PORTLAND, Ore. Jamie Weisner scored all 22 of her points in the second half and the Oregon State women’s basketball team used an 11-0 run coming out of the break to take its first lead of the game, eventually holding on for a 79-73 win over the host Portland Pilots in the Chiles Center on Friday night.

After a rough first half that saw the Beavers shoot 30 percent, turn the ball over 14 times and stumble into intermission down 10 (32-22), OSU came out of the locker room an entirely different team in the second. In the final 20 minutes, Oregon State (5-2) scored 57 points on 54.5 percent shooting (18-of-33), including going 6-for-9 from behind the arc, turned the ball over just four times and used nine offensive rebounds to punish the Pilots (4-3) to the tune of 15-0 in second-chance points.

“Portland is a good team, has competed with everybody and is battle tested,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “I thought we experienced a little bit of a hangover from our trip [to the Bahamas]. Anytime you lose, even if you play well like we did against Penn State and Florida, it shakes your confidence a bit and I thought we saw that at the beginning. It puts a little doubt in your mind and you can’t play with that. It took us a half to get going, but I’m proud of the team for rallying like they did.”

Portland opened the game on a 12-2 run and from the outset it didn’t look to be Oregon State’s night. The Beavers started 5-of-18 (27.7 percent) from the floor to UP’s 10-of-23 (43.5 percent) and had eight turnovers against zero assists in the first 12 minutes. Freshman Sydney Wiese scored eight of OSU’s first 17 points and the Beavers were able to hold the Pilots scoreless for a 3:35 stretch near the end of the period, but Portland held a 32-22 lead into the break.

That’s when everything changed. Oregon State came out of the locker room on a mission in the second half. Weisner hit a jumper, was fouled and made the freebie; Wiese knocked down a triple; Deven Hunter made a free throw; Ali Gibson converted a layup in traffic; Weisner sank another pair of free throws and in less than two minutes the Beavers had taken their first lead of the game, 33-32.

Weisner, who had an empty stat line save for one rebound and five turnovers in the first, set the tone for OSU in the second. She went 6-of-9 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from deep, was a perfect 7-for-7 from the line, handed out two assists and had her first block of the season in a nearly flawless 19 second-half minutes. She had 20+ points for the seventh time in her career and has reached that mark in back-to-back games for the first time.

“She had an odd first half, but we all did,” Rueck said of the slow start. “Fourteen turnovers mean you’re tentative, not aggressive and your mind is just not quite right. The team decided at halftime to compete like crazy and see if we can make a game of this. That’s what we challenged them to do. Our defense got us back in into it. It was back-and-forth the rest of the way, but we made the plays down the stretch to close it out.”

Oregon State would grow its lead to as large as 10 on a Weisner layup with 8:18 left (63-53), but Portland would not go away. The Pilots answered that bucket with a 13-0 run to re-take the lead, 66-63, with just 5:03 on the clock.

Wiese set up Hunter for a layup to put Oregon State up 71-70 with 2:14 remaining and give the Beavers the 11th and final lead of the night. Weisner hit a triple to stretch it to four and after a Kari Luttinen bucket for UP, Hunter and Gibson made the game’s final four free throws to seal the victory.

Wiese (16), Gibson (13) and Samantha Siegner (10) joined Weisner in double figures. Oregon State, which came into the night 24th in the nation in scoring, is now averaging 81.9 points per game. The Beavers’ 573 points through seven games are their most since 1980-81 when they put up 640 to start the season.

Ruth Hamblin, who entered the game ninth in the nation in blocks, had four of Oregon State’s nine rejections.  

The Beavers will have a week off before returning to Gill for a home tilt with Hawai’i on Friday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.