CORVALLIS, Ore. – Sophomore center Ruth Hamblin tied a school record with nine blocks and the Oregon State women’s basketball team put together its most complete performance of the season, leading No. 2 Notre Dame for large portions of the game before the Irish were able to take the lead in the second half and escape with a 70-58 win in front of a crowd of 4,032 in Gill Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t know that I’m a believer in moral victories, but I’m a believer in progress and steps forward and learning lessons,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “I don’t know how you measure it, but we grew up a lot today.”
The Beavers (8-4) grew a lead as large as seven late in the first half when Hamblin dropped one in off an assist from Alyssa Martin and then grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for two with a minute until the break to give OSU a 33-26 edge. Notre Dame (11-0) scored the period’s final five points to pull to within two, 33-31, at intermission.
The Irish would extend their run to 9-0 and take a 37-33 lead coming out of the locker room in the second before Hamblin calmed things down with another easy lay-in. Jamie Weisner converted a jumper and layup following a Notre Dame free throw to put the Beavers up 39-38 with 16:25 remaining, but that would be OSU’s last lead. The Irish edge fluctuated between two and six points until Notre Dame scored the game’s final six to secure the 70-58 victory.
"This team competed for 40 minutes, with just laser focus," Rueck added. "We know we can play with anybody."
Notre Dame began the day leading the nation in field goal shooting (52.2 percent) and 3-point shooting (44.9 percent), but the Beaver defense limited the Irish to 36 percent overall in the first half and 1-for-6 on 3s. It was the first time all season that Notre Dame had trailed at halftime.
Could not be prouder of this team. We will win more than we will lose with peformances like that. Focused effort. #GoBeavs— Scott Rueck (@CoachRueck) December 30, 2013
The Beavers were able to frustrate the Irish with their first-half play on the block. The 11th-best 3-point shooting team in the nation coming in, Oregon State mixed it up, scoring 16 of its 33 points in the opening 20 minutes in the paint, while holding Notre Dame to just six points down low.
OSU’s 12 first-half buckets were set off of nine assists, including three from Deven Hunter. The Beaver sophomore, one of nine underclassmen on the team and four in the starting lineup, registered four assists and also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, the sixth double-digit rebounding game of her career.
Defensively, Oregon State was also able to contain Notre Dame sophomore Jewell Loyd, last year's national freshman of the year, who only had 10 points for the Irish -- 8.5 below her team-leading average.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Beavers, who open conference play Friday at No. 23 Cal before visiting No. 4 Stanford on Sunday. Both games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
“We’re so close,” Weisner said of OSU’s quest for the upset. “We totally could have won that game; we just have to fine-tune the little things. I think this gives us momentum going into Pac-12 play.”
The crowd of 4,032 was Oregon State’s second this season of over 4,000. Before this year, Oregon State had only had a home crowd that large during the non-conference portion of its schedule once, on Dec. 22, 1995 against Montana (4,118). The Beavers are averaging 2,224 fans per game.
“This is my alma mater,” Rueck said of the crowd. “To see Beaver Nation come out and support this group made me really proud. I’m happy that they came out and want to see them again. This team proved they’re worth the effort.”