Women's Basketball Drops Pac-10 Opener At USC, 69-65

Dec. 20, 2001

LOS ANGELES - Oregon State University freshman Juleen Smith led all players with a career-high 22 points, but the Beavers dropped a closely contested Pacific-10 Conference opener to University of Southern California, 69-65, in Thursday's women's basketball action.

Neither team led by more than six points during the game as both teams battled tough until the end.

USC took the lead for good when Jessica Cheeks buried a 3-pointer at the 4:15 mark to put the Women of Troy in front 60-59. Senior Tiffany Elmore followed with a transition lay-up and added a jumper seconds later to give Southern Cal a 64-59 cushion with just over three minutes remaining and the Beavers were unable to recover.

OSU junior Michelle Estell hit a free throw and Leilani Estavan nailed a 3-pointer with just two seconds left on the shot clock, to narrow the USC lead to 64-63 with just 2:06 left, but the Women of Troy scored five of the games final seven points to seal the victory.

Smith knocked down 9-of-17 field goals and 4-of-6 free throws, to go along with three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Estavan was the only other OSU player to reach double figures in scoring with 13 points, while dishing out a game-high five assists, and making four steals. Sophomore Brina Chaney pulled down seven rebounds while fellow post Hollye Chapman added seven points and six boards. Freshman Jessica Jones was held scoreless on the night but contributed valuable minutes for the Beavers, tallying a career-high 15. Senior guard Felicia Ragland scored six points in just 13 minutes of action, after banging up her right knee in the opening minutes of the second half.

Three Southern California players reached double figures in scoring with Elmore's 20 points leading the way.

Both teams had trouble hanging onto the ball, with USC committing 26 turnovers on the night and the Beavers recording 24 miscues.

With the loss, Oregon State falls to 4-6 on the season, dropping its sixth straight Pac-10 opener, while the Women of Troy improve to 5-5 on the year and 1-0 in conference action.

Smith was in charge in the first half, leading all players with 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field in 17 minutes of action. Her spark off the bench kept the Beavers in the game.OSU started slow, turning the ball over five times over the first four minutes of action before Ragland got the Beavers on the board at the 16:12 mark.

USC led by as many as six points early (10-4) but Smith entered the game and hit a quick driving lay-up which was followed by a Ragland jumper to keep the game close.

Ericka Cook helped Oregon State start a 7-0 run at the 9:14 mark, giving the Beavers their largest lead at 20-17. USC went scoreless from the field for a five-minute stretch but was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line including six straight to pull in front 25-22 with five minutes left on the clock.

Oregon State rallied back to knot things up but the Women of Troy reeled off six points to match their largest lead (34-28), when Rachel Woodward hit a pair of free throws. The Beavers answered the Southern Cal run with six consecutive points and Cook's lay-up with 22-seconds remaining, sent the game into the locker room tied 34-34 at the half.

Oregon State returns to action on Saturday when the Beavers face UCLA. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m.

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