Women's Basketball Downs USC, 63-61, In Pac-10 Opener

Dec. 27, 2002

CORVALLIS, Ore. - University of Southern California's women's basketball team had three shots fall astray in the final 10 seconds, as Oregon State recorded a 63-61 victory in the Pacific-10 Conference opener for both squads.

In what has become one of the biggest rivalries in the conference, the last four meetings between USC and OSU have been decided by a combined nine points.

With the win, Oregon State improves to 7-3 on the season and 1-0 in the Pac-10 while USC falls to 5-6 overall and 0-1 in conference action. The Beavers improved their record to 6-0 in Gill Coliseum on the season - their best home-start since the 1983-84 campaign.

The win also marked career victory No. 200 for Beaver head coach Judy Spoelstra.

'This is a huge emotional win for us,' said Spoelstra. 'Games against USC have historically been a game of runs.'

The game swayed back and forth over the final five minutes of action. The Women of Troy used a 5-0 run to take a 54-52 lead with 3:23 on the clock, but sophomore Juleen Smith, seeing her first action in five games, came off the bench to score four quick points and give the Beavers the advantage with 2:28 left.

After exchanging baskets for the next minute-and-a-half, USC junior Ebony Hoffman buried a runner in the lane and converted a free throw to put the Women of Troy in front, 61-60 with just 55-seconds remaining.

Beaver guard Leilani Estavan answered on the next possession with a 3-footer off the glass for what proved to be the game-winner. Brina Chaney added a free throw with 23 seconds remaining to give OSU a two-point cushion.

Jessica Cheeks, who hit the game-winner against Oregon State last year in Corvallis, came up short on her jumper attempt and put-backs by Rometra Craig and Tiffany Hicks fell wide as the Beavers picked up their first victory in a Pac-10 opener since 1995-96.

Junior post Hollye Chapman led the Beavers in scoring for the third straight game with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Estavan added 12 points, four steals, and five assists, while Chaney recorded her fifth career double-double with 11 points and 11 boards.

Three Southern California players reached double figures in scoring led by Aisha Hollans' 20 points.

The Women of Troy jumped out to an 18-7 lead over the opening six minutes of play but the Beavers clawed back helped in part by big plays from freshmen Casey Bunn and Mandy Close.

'It took us a while to get going,' said Spoelstra. 'But then we did well. We wanted to stay close and try to get it even by halftime.'

Jessica Jones' driving lay-up gave Oregon State a 33-32 halftime lead.

The Beavers return to action on Sunday when they host UCLA. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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