USC defeats Oregon State, keep perfect home record intact

The Women of Troy (12-4, 4-1) topped Oregon State 53-45 on Saturday, improving to 7-0 at home on the season.

But the win over the last-place Beavers (7-10, 0-6) didn’t come easy for USC, as both teams struggled offensively the whole game. During one span in the first half that lasted almost seven minutes, the two teams combined for five turnovers and only six points.

“It wasn’t a pretty game, but sometimes you just have to go with the old saying ‘Champions find a way to win,’ and that’s what we came out and did tonight,” USC coach Michael Cooper said.

The Women of Troy took a 23-19 lead into halftime, as both teams committed costly turnovers and shot a combined 26 percent from the field. The slow start continued a trend for USC, who have shown a disturbing trend of starting slow this season.

“It’s just a matter of having that mentality when you come out, getting ready to play from the beginning,” sophomore forward Christina Marinacci said. “It’s something that we have to work on, and I’m sure it’ll be different when we play Cal next week.”

Marinacci led all scorers with 13 points off the bench.

USC’s halftime was quickly erased as Oregon State started the second half with a 9-4 run to take a 28-27 lead on a jumper by senior forward El Sara Greer.

The Women of Troy responded with a 13-2 run to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The Beavers were outrebounded 46-38, and committed 16 turnovers to diminish their chances at pulling an upset on the road.

“You’re supposed to win at home, it’s your home court, you’re in front of your fans,” Marinacci said. “Away games are really important, and if we can just get the momentum from our wins at home to carry us up north to Cal and Stanford, which will be really tough games, it’ll be really important.”

Junior guard Briana Gilbreath chipped in 12 points against the Beavers, who rank as the second-best defensive team in the Pac-10 at 53.7 points allowed per game.

“We’re working on all of our perimeter people…asking them to put the ball on our floor and go to the basket because that’ll open up things for our perimeter [shooting],” Cooper said.” [Gilbreath] has been getting a good job of getting to the rim.”

Forward Cassie Harberts narrowly missed recording a double-double, gathering 12 rebounds while scoring nine points.

With tough road games against Cal and No. 4 Stanford looming ahead next week, Cooper knows what the team has to focus on to win.

“Rebounding is key to our success… [because] it goes along with our defense. If we can defend you and make you take a tough shot, and we can rebound the ball, that does two things,” Cooper said. “That limits you just to one shot, and it gives us an opportunity to get some more shots when we’re doing our offensive rebounding. So that’s been our focus all season long, and it’s starting to pay off for us now.”