One of the strengths for the Oregon State women’s basketball team this season has been its defense.
The Beavers have usually had a hand in the face of opposing players, and have forced the opposition into 32-percent shooting from the floor.
They have been even stingier from beyond the 3-point arc, where opponents were shooting just 28 percent.
But on Monday night, the Beavers were not able to slow down St. Mary’s in their final nonconference game of the season.
The Gaels shot 44 percent from the floor, but more damaging was the 14-for-22 performance from beyond the arc as St. Mary’s went on to post an 81-61 victory before a crowd of 978 in Gill Coliseum.
“Defending the three is something that our team has done really well this season, something we take pride in,” assistant coach Mark Campbell said. “Credit St. Mary’s for knocking down the shots and hitting big shots.”
The Beavers (9-2) are idle until opening Pac-12 Conference play at home against Washington on Dec. 29.
In what seemed like just the blink of an eye, the Gaels (8-4) had the Beavers reeling.
Jasmine Smith, who played at OSU in the 2006-07 season under former coach LaVonda Wagner, got the Gaels started with two 3s in the first three minutes as St. Mary’s led 10-0 before Ali Gibson hit a three at the 16:20 mark for OSU.
The Beavers got within 29-21 on a bucket by Patricia Bright with 2:46 left, but the Gaels closed the half on a 12-0 run.
The last six points came after OSU head coach Scott Rueck was ejected from the game following two technicals.
OSU’s Earlysia Marchbanks was whistled for a questionable charge call and St. Mary’s called a 30-second timeout to set up a play.
Rueck was called for a technical at the start of the timeout, then all of a sudden he was whistled for another one during it.
Smith hit three of the four technical free throws and Morgan Hatten rattled in a three just before the buzzer for the 41-21 lead.
Despite being down 20 and their coach not on the bench, the Beavers came out fired up to open the second half.
Three turnovers led to fast-break buckets from Sage Indendi, Marchbanks and Alyssa Martin. Indendi’s three moments later got the Beavers within 43-30.
Martin’s bucket at the 14:26 mark capped a 15-6 run with the Beavers trailing 45-34.
It looked like OSU had a fast break and a chance to get the deficit under double digits on a steal by Marchbanks, but she was whistled for a foul instead.
“We didn’t start off as strong as we knew we could,” Gibson said. “I think once we were down 20 we knew we had to try to come back. We had that fire at the beginning of the second half but it just didn’t stay throughout the game.”
The Beavers couldn’t get closer as Jackie Nared began to light it up for the Gaels.
The Westview High product who transferred to St. Mary’s from Maryland, hit the first of her five second-half 3s to stop the bleeding.
When the Beavers got back within 11 at 52-41 on Alexis Bostick’s 3, Nared hit a free-throw line jumper, then a three and all of a sudden it was back up to 16.
Nared finished with a game-high 26 while Smith added 22 for the Gaels.
“Credit (Nared) for making all of her shots,” Gibson said. “But I think we could have adjusted better and we usually do. I guess tonight we just didn’t.”
Gibson finished with 14 points for the Beavers, while Marchbanks chipped in 11 and Martin nine.
The Gaels had 18 offensive rebounds and had a 46-22 overall advantage on the glass.
“It’s eye-opening for a lot of our kids,” Campbell said. “I think (the Gaels) are a top-10 offensive rebounding team in the country and that is what it will be like the next 18 games in Pac-12 play.
“So in regards to that and how physical they are and tough on the boards ... it’s something they’re really good at and something we’ll have to improve on and get good at because in conference everyone is going to have those big, strong post players and we’re going to have to fight and compete on the boards.”
St. Mary’s 81, Oregon State 61
ST. MARY’S (8-4): Carli Rosenthal 1-5 1-2 3, Danielle Mauldin 3-8 2-2 8, Jackie Nared 8-13 4-4 26, Alex Carbonel 5-9 0-2 12, Jasmine Smith 6-16 6-8 22, Alyssa Levesque 0-1 0-0 0, Hayley Hendrickson 0-0 2-2 2, Amanda Arter 1-2 0-0 3, Mia Greco 0-0 0-0 0, Andrea Bailey 1-1 0-0 2, Morgan Hatten 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 26-58 15-20 81.
OREGON STATE (9-2) Eralysia Marchbanks 4-11 3-6 11, Patricia Bright 3-5 1-1 7, Ali Gibson 4-10 4-6 14, Sage Indendi 2-6 0-2 5, Alyssa Martin 4-11 0-0 9, Alexis Bostick 2-3 2-2 7, Thais Pinto 2-5 0-0 4, ShaKiana Edwards-Teasley 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 23-54 10-17 61.
Halftime: St. Mary’s 41, Oregon State 21. 3-Point-Goals: SM 14-22 (Nared 6-8, Carbonel 2-2, Smith 4-9, Arter 1-1, Hatten 1-2), OSU 5-19 (Marchbanks 0-2, Gibson 2-5, Indendi 1-4, Martin 1-6, Bostick 1-1, Edwards-Teasley 0-1). Rebounds: SM 46 (Mauldin 13), OSU 22 (Pinto 6). Assists: SM 16 (Carbonel 6), OSU 14 (Gibson 5). Totals fouls: SM 19, OSU 17. Fouled out: Rosenthal, Gibson. Technicals: OSU bench 2. Att.: 978