CORVALLIS, Ore. – Sydney Wiese scored a game-high 17 points, setting a new Oregon State record for 3-point makes in the process, and the Beavers used an extended 17-2 second-half run to push past and eventually pull away from visiting USC, 58-48, in Gill Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
The win, OSU’s fifth in a row and seventh in its last eight, moves the Beavers’ record to 17-9 overall. The 9-5 mark in conference is Oregon State’s best through 14 games since 2001-02 and puts the team into a tie for third place in the Pac-12. The Beavers have also won 12 of their 13 games in Gill Coliseum, the program’s best-ever start at home. Eleven of those dozen victories have been by 10 points or more.
Down four early in the second half, 33-29, Oregon State’s freshman sharpshooter started to warm up from distance. Wiese hit a 3-pointer with 15:30 on the clock to pull her team within one and nailed another three minutes later to hand the Beavers their first lead of the afternoon, 35-33. She made her third straight with 10:59 to go and her personal 9-0 run gave OSU a 38-33 edge.
“I want to help this team win and do whatever I can to put us in a position to reach our ultimate goal, which is an NCAA bid at the end of the season,” Wiese said. “I’m just looking for the best opportunity to score and there were ones for me to make shots so I stepped up and hit them.”
Gabriella Hanson would cap off the 11-0 stretch with a nice little pull up in the lane at 10:24, forcing USC to call timeout in an attempt to stop the bleeding with the Trojans in a 40-33 hole.
Wiese’s second 3-pointer during her perfect spurt was her 76th of the season, setting a new Oregon State record. She hit five overall on the day, her third game this season with at least that many, and now has 78 to her name during this freshman campaign. She finds herself just five short of breaking into the Pac-12’s single-season top 10 with four regular-season contests left.
“Sydney is such a competitor and so capable,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “And now what everyone who has watched us all year has seen is that she’s not making mistakes down the stretch. She controlled the ball and handled it against pressure.”
A pair of Cassie Harberts free throws put a momentary stop to Oregon State’s onslaught, but the reprieve was short lived. Back-to-back-to-back layups from Hanson, Ali Gibson and Ruth Hamblin put OSU up by double digits for the first time, 46-35, with 7:44 to go.
When USC’s Alexyz Vaioletama made a layup with 6:31 on the clock, it ended a nine-minute drought from the floor for the Trojans, which was indicative of Oregon State’s defensive effort all game. After hitting four of its first six shots, USC closed the final 32 minutes by making just 14-of-47 (29.8 percent).
“The best defensive performance of the year, in my opinion,” Rueck said. “We were just laser-focused and made very few mistakes.”
“Last game I think they scored 80 points on us and that’s unacceptable,” Wiese added. “No team should score 80 points on us. We really took it to heart, took it personally and stepped up big today.”
Oregon State was able to close out the victory with big plays down stretch. Battling full court pressure for much of the final stanza, the Beavers turned it over at half court up nine with three minutes to go. But with Harberts closing in on an uncontested bucket for USC, Gibson tracked her down from behind to pick the post, keeping momentum squarely on OSU’s bench.
The Beavers, who had 30 turnovers in the teams’ first meeting and 12 in the first half today, committed only six in the final 20 minutes against USC’s pressure. The Trojans held a 10-2 edge in points off turnovers in the first half, but Oregon State flipped the script in the second and outscored USC 9-4 in that category.
OSU received a boost heading into the locker room after closing the first half on a 7-0 run to pull to within two at the break, 22-20. Gibson started the run with an acrobatic layup, Hamblin drained a couple of free throws and Hanson capped it off with a timely 3-pointer. USC didn’t score in the frame’s final three minutes.
Ali Gibson had 12 points and OSU’s do-everything freshman, Gabriella Hanson, had 11 points and eight rebounds. Ruth Hamblin (11) and Deven Hunter (10) took care of the glass, as the Beavers out-rebounded another opponent, 40-31.
USC’s Cassie Harberts (22) and Ariya Crook (14), who combined for 36 against OSU earlier this season in Los Angeles, combined for just 17 on 5-of-24 shooting on Sunday. The Beavers held the former scoreless in the first half and the latter scoreless in the second.
Ruth Hamblin tallied six blocks for the second straight game and has 95 this season, tied with Lisa Leslie (1993) for fourth in Pac-12 history.
Oregon State will close out its regular-season road schedule with a swing through Washington next weekend. The Beavers start with the Cougars Friday at 7 p.m. and will match up with the Huskies on Sunday at 2 p.m.