USC Women Slip 61-58 At Oregon State

March 5, 2009

CORVALLIS, ORE. - The USC women's basketball team saw its two leading rebounders sidelined with injuries and came away with a 61-58 loss to host Oregon State on Thursday night in Corvallis. And although four Trojans finished in double figures on the day - led by 15 from Heather Oliver - the Beavers' second-half surge proved too much. USC moves to 14-14 overall and 8-9 in Pac-10 play with the loss, while Oregon State goes to 18-10, 8-9.

USC senior center Nadia Parker got just one minute and two points into the game before going to the sideline with an injury to her right knee. The Trojans soldiered on and shot 40 percent from the floor in the half to stay ahead of OSU's 36 percent. The Beavers cut in closer thanks to a number of trips to the free-throw line, as OSU was 9-of-12 from the line compared to 2-for-2 by USC in the half. OSU picked things up on the boards for the second half and outrebounded the Trojans 17-2 through the first 10 minutes of the second half. Soon after, USC's leading scorer and rebounder to that point, Briana Gilbreath, was sidelined after a knock to the head, leaving the Trojans to struggle further on the boards.

Oregon State led by as much as nine points in the second half, although the Trojans would close to tie things with two minutes to go. Camille LeNoir and Ashley Corral nailed clutch 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds, but OSU's Talisa Rhea was flawless from the free-throw line and kept crucial padding on the Beavers' lead en route to victory. USC ended the game shooting 40 percent, ahead of OSU's 36 percent, and made no trips to the free-throw line during the second half. After a 21-13 USC rebounding advantage at the half, OSU ended up on top 45-30 by the final buzzer. The Beavers had three finish in double figures led by 18 from Rhea, who was 7-of-8 in free throws. Alex Mitchell had a double-double for the Beavers with 16 points and 10 rebounds. In addition to Oliver's team-high 15, Trojans LeNoir, Gilbreath and Kari LaPlante each had 10.

USC carried a 16-11 lead across the 10-minute mark of the first half behind an early six points from freshman Briana Gilbreath. The Beavers grabbed the next four rebounds and got two scores to go to cut to within one, only to have Heather Oliver bury a three at 6:35. Another Oliver long one would come at 5:15, and USC was back up five at 24-19. Awarded a series of trips to the free-throw line, OSU pulled to within one on six straight free throws. Kari LaPlante got no call under the hoop, but powered up a layup to bring USC ahead 26-23 with 1:30 to go. Camille LeNoir then answered yet another Beaver free-throw set with a jumper at 0:55, though an OSU jumper in the final minute left USC with a 28-26 halftime lead.

Aside from an early fast break layup from Oliver, USC could not get another bucket to fall through the first five minutes, while the Beavers outrebounded USC 11-1 and managed an 8-0 scoring run to take OSU's first lead of the game and go up 36-30 with 15:10 on the clock. LeNoir stopped the run with a three at 14:55. Gilbreath later joined Oliver in double figures with a pair of buckets to answer OSU scores, but rebounding woes continues for the Trojans and shots slowed once again while the Beavers worked ahead by nine with 8 minutes to go. A 6-0 OSU scoring run was snapped by USC's first back-to-back scores of the half on fast break layups from Oliver and LeNoir to make it 48-43 OSU at 7:15. USC's run extended to an 8-0 stretch with buckets from Hailey Dunham and Kari LaPlante, and Oliver answered an OSU score with a three to lock things up 50-50 with 2:55 to go. LaPlante again pushed things to a tie at 52-52 at 2:01, but OSU's Alex Mitchell converted a three-point play at 1:44 to get the Beavers ahead 55-52. Up against the shot clock, USC had a miss and fouled to put Talisa Rhea on the line with 20 seconds left. She hit both to put USC behind 57-52, but LeNoir nailed a quick three 5 seconds later to make it a 2-point game. Rhea went back to the line and hit both again with 12.5 seconds on the clock, but USC went back and got a three from Ashley Corral to make it 59-58, but only 1.9 seconds were one the clock. Forced to foul, USC saw Rhea go to the line once again and hit two more to leave USC with only a last-gasp long three try left. It fell short, and Oregon State had the 61-58 win.

USC now goes to Eugene to face Oregon in a 12:30 p.m. game on Saturday (March 7) to finish up regular-season play and finalize seedings for the coming Pac-10 Tournament at the Galen Center March 12-15.

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