CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ruth Hamblin’s 16 points led five Beavers in double figures to go along with her six rebounds and four blocks and some stifling OSU defense held Saint Martin’s to just 20.4 percent shooting as the Oregon State women’s basketball team cruised by the visiting Saints, 84-36, on Sunday afternoon in Gill Coliseum.
“We grew up a lot today as the game wore on,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “We had a defensive change today and I was really proud of the team for embracing that and adapting as we went. Offensively, I was happy to see them get through that hangover from the [Sacramento State] loss, which you have no matter who you lose to or how you lose. [About 10 minutes went by] before we relaxed, started playing basketball again and were reminded that we’re pretty good. We can execute, knock shots down and get stops when we need them.”
Oregon State’s 84 points was its largest offensive output of the season and the team’s highest total since it dropped 85 on CSU Bakersfield last Dec. 13. The Beavers (5-3) shot a season-best 50 percent from the floor (31-for-62) and converted more than 30 field goal attempts for the first time since they made 35 in a 79-47 win over Corban on Dec. 11, 2011.
Hamblin’s career-high 16 points led the way for Oregon State and she was joined in double figures by Jamie Weisner’s 14, Quortni Fambro’s career-best 11 and 10 from both Ali Gibson and Mollee Schwegler.
The Beavers looked comfortable from the get-go, opening up an 11-point lead, 26-15, on an Alyssa Martin layup just over 10 minutes into the game. That lead was trimmed to nine on a couple of occasions before Schwegler drained a three-point bucket to put Oregon State up, 32-20, with 4:45 remaining in the first half.
From that point on the Beavers were off to the races, growing their lead to 15 at the break, 41-26. The offensive onslaught continued coming out of intermission. Oregon State opened the second half on a 32-4 run and eventually outscored the Saints by 33 in the period, 43-10.
“That’s been an issue for us this year for some reason and is one of the things as a coach that’s a little bit of a mystery,” Rueck said of some of his team’s slow re-starts coming out of halftime this season. “It’s not what this team is about. We’re about finishing strong and we always have been. Today to come out and have a great performance in the second half was what we needed to do. We need confidence and we need to build consistency. It’s a good sign as we move forward.”
In the second half, OSU held Saint Martin’s (4-5) to just two made field goals on 27 attempts (7.4 percent). SMU’s Brooke Paulson made a jumper with 15:21 remaining in the game and then her team failed to convert again over the next 10 minutes until Paulson hit a three-point bucket at the 5:57 mark.
For the game, the Beavers’ man-to-man defense held Saint Martin’s to just 20.4 percent from the floor (11-for-54), forced the Saints in 17 turnovers and tallied 11 steals. Such defensive prowess has been common for the Orange & Black under Rueck.
OSU’s last such effort came in the season opener a year ago against Western Oregon when it held its opponent to just 32 points and 19.6 percent shooting (10-for-51) in a 96-32 victory.
“It’s something that we’re going to build off of and not going to just stop with this,” Hamblin said of the Beavers’ defense. “It was a great defensive effort. You always have to sellout for 40 [minutes] and not just 20.”
Offensively, Oregon State received contributions up and down its lineup. Ten of the 12 Beavers who saw action today scored and each one of the dozen grabbed at least one rebound. In addition to the career-high point totals for Hamblin and Fambro, Schwegler tallied a personal-best five rebounds and tied her career-high with four assists. Hamblin also posted her highest rejection total with four and Fambro’s four rebounds topped her previous best of two. It was the first game with five OSU players in double figures since a 78-73 win over Washington last Feb. 11.
“I’ve had both,” Rueck commented. “I’ve had teams where you’re dependent on a couple of scorers and teams where it can come from anywhere. I think this group is figuring out where our go-to people are. Every game we’ve played has been a dog fight to this point so we’re developing that, but a team where you have five scorers on the floor all the time – that’s what we want to be. That’s what we need to be.”
“I think we have so many great shooters and players,” Schwegler added. “We’re aware of that. We’re getting to know each other a lot better and know what people can do. When people start making shots, others just feed off of it.”
With the defensive effort today, OSU’s field goal percentage defense dropped to 34.1 percent, good enough for second in the Pac-12 behind Stanford’s 32 percent. Additionally, the Beavers’ 38-6 edge in the paint and 42-18 advantage off the bench today added to their already gaudy numbers in those categories this season. Oregon State’s bench has outscored its opponents 248 to 112 this year and it owns a 250 to 128 edge in points in the paint.
Oregon State is back in action for its final non-conference home game this Thursday, Dec. 13 against Cal State Fullerton at 6 p.m.