Talisa Rhea Hits Key Free Throws in Beavers Win
March 5, 2009
Corvallis, Ore. - Guard Talisa Rhea poured in 18 points, including six free throws in the last 21 seconds, and center Alex Mitchell recorded her second double-double as the Oregon State women's basketball team (18-10, 8-9) edged the USC Trojans 61-58 to move into a tie for fifth-place in the Pac-10 Conference standings.
The Beavers erased a two-point halftime deficit to build a nine-point advantage at 48-39 with 8:23 remaining, but the Trojans battled back to tie the game at 50-50 with 2:57 remaining with an 11-2 run. Rhea then made the critical free throws to hold off a furious USC rally.
'It was just focus,' Rhea said of her late-game free throw shooting. 'We shoot free throws every day in practice in pressure situations. We come out on our own and shoot extra free throws. It's just about getting into your routine and getting comfortable, and having the confidence to know it's going in.'
The Beavers appeared the have the game in hand with a five-point advantage at 57-52 after a pair of free throws at the 21 second mark. However, USC's Camille LeNoir hit a deep three-point field goal with 16 seconds to narrow the gap to 57-55 and after two more Rhea free throws Ashlay Corral hit an improbable trey to close the gap to 59-58. Rhea built the lead back to 61-58, before Le Noir's desperation half court shot sailed right of the hoop at the buzzer.
'They hit some tough shots at the end and we were able to get our press-breakers set and come right back at them,' Rhea said. 'Luckily as a team we held our composure, we didn't panic. We just got the ball down and shot free throws.'
The victory was a benchmark win for the Beavers who now have posted the most victories in a single season for the program since 1996.
'We beat a very good Pac-10 team,' OSU head coach LaVonda Wagner said. 'This was a very important 40 minutes of basketball for us to play because they are ahead of us in the standings. Going down the home stretch, we want to protect our home court. I felt like Alex gave a tremendous effort with her double, double. Talisa shot the ball very well and our defense down the stretch was tremendous.'
The Beavers conclude the regular season this Saturday against UCLA in a special 12:30 p.m. tipoff for senior day at legendary Gill Coliseum. The contest will mark the final regular season home game for Mercedes Fox-Griffin, Tiffany Ducker and Brittney Davis.
'The seniors give so much to this team and this program; we just want to let them close out their home season the right way,' Rhea added. 'We want to make sure that they are leaving their mark.'
A Beaver victory Saturday could lift OSU into a tie for fourth place in the standings and no worse than a five-seed in next week's Pac-10 Tournament at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.