PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico — The Oregon State women’s basketball team came back from a 10-point deficit in the first half and hit clutch shots down the stretch to take a 49-46 win over UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday in the inaugural game of the Hardwood Tournament of Hope.
With the win, the Beavers (2-1) will play again today at 1:30 p.m. against Winthrop (2-1), which defeated Mississippi State (2-2), 61-59.
“We got off to a shaky start offensively and were just out of sorts (because) Santa Barbara did a great job of forcing us to make errors,” OSU coach Scott Rueck said. “Then we got our bearings on both ends of the floor towards the last eight minutes of the first half.
“We told the team to continue to do what they were doing and relax. I thought we were in a good spot. UCSB is used to a lot of success being a tournament team a year ago and that proved to be the case down the stretch. It was a really hard-fought game and we feel fortunate to win it.”
The Gauchos (1-2) built double-digit leads on two occasions in the first half thanks to early long-range shooting success.
Down 21-11 with 4:13 left in the first half, OSU went on a 12-0 run that carried over into the second half.
“We do our best to slow our opponents down,” Rueck said. “I didn’t want to get off to such a shaky start offensively ... I don’t want to score in the 40s or 50s, but I would love to see our opponents do that. I thought for two teams that emphasize defense the way the both of us do, it’s probably what we all could have expected and was a real battle today.”
Freshman Jamie Weisner made a 3 from the far corner to spark the run beginning at the 4:04 mark. Ruth Hamblin followed with a layup and two free throws to pull OSU to within three at intermission, 21-18.
Coming out of the break Alyssa Martin was fouled while making a layup and converted the free throw to tie the score. Patricia Bright gave the Beavers their first lead with a lay-in at 18:28 and after UCSB tied things at 23, Bright made two free throws to give her team the edge for good.
Bright had 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks while Hamblin came off the bench to put up nine first-half points. Deven Hunter added four points and four rebounds in her first career start and the trio helped OSU outscore the Gauchos by 20 points in the paint, 24-4.
“Ruth is a true 6-6 and is really bright,” Rueck said. “She’s only been playing the game for five years and so she’s a work in progress, but this team knows exactly where she’s going to be. She executes our stuff so well. To be honest, she was the reason we were close at halftime. We needed that contribution from her and I was really proud of her performance today.”
Late in the game with UCSB making a charge, OSU ran a textbook in-bounds play with only 2 seconds on the shot clock and the ball at halfcourt. Bright pushed her defender away from the basket and received a high-arching pass from Martin for an easy layup.
The basket gave OSU a little bit of breathing room, 47-43, and then the Beavers held on for the victory.
Weisner scored nine points and had a career-high seven boards for OSU.
Oregon St. 49, UC Santa Barbara 46
UC SANTA BARBARA (1-2) — Underwood 4-8 0-0 8, Nesbit 6-15 3-3 18, Zornig 1-9 0-0 3, Tilleman 1-6 0-0 2, Mason 3-9 1-2 7, Ware 2-3 0-0 4, Aguirre 2-3 0-0 4, Pino 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-53 4-5 46.
OREGON STATE (2-1) — Ture 1-3 0-0 3, Gibson 1-5 0-0 2, Bright 5-7 6-7 16, Martin 1-9 1-2 3, Hunter 2-3 0-0 4, Siegner 0-0 0-0 0, Weisner 4-7 0-0 9, Edwards-Teasley 0-0 1-2 1, Schwegler 1-3 0-1 2, Hamblin 3-7 3-4 9. Totals 18-44 11-16 49.
Halftime — UC Santa Barbara 21, Oregon State 18. 3-Point Goals — UCSB 4-15 (Nesbit 3-7, Zornig 1-7, Mason 0-1), OSU 2-10 (Toure 1-2, Weisner 1-2, Gibson 0-1, Hunter 0-1, Schwegler 0-1, Martin 0-3). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — UCSB 28 (Tilleman 10), OSU 35 (Bright 8). Assists — UCSB 9 (Underwood 3, Mason 3), OSU 10 (Martin 3, Schwegler 3). Total Fouls – UCSB 16, OSU 14. A — 125.