LOS ANGELES — USC coach Mark Trakh moved forward Aliyah Mazyck to guard Oregon State’s young backcourt in the second half and the move paid dividends. Oregon State had 27 turnovers, 16 of which came in the second half, and that proved to be the winning formula as USC scored 26 points off those miscues to rally from a 17-point deficit.
Kristen Stewart scored 21 points as USC came back to beat No. 16 Oregon State 65-61 for its first Pac-12 Conference win Sunday at the Galen Center. Oregon State had as much as a 17-point lead in the third quarter. Sadie Edwards added 17 points and Jordan Adams and Mazyck each had four steals. Oregon State’s trio of starting guards had 12 turnovers.
“I’m really proud of the kids because they were down against a nationally-ranked team that really runs their stuff well,” Trakh said. “We needed to win a game like that where we grinded and came back and executed in the last four minutes. I’m really proud of what the kids did. Jordan played her tail off. We played with a sense of urgency but not a sense of panic”
USC (11-4, 1-3) snapped a three-game losing streak after rallying from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter. Simon made an open basket inside to give the Trojans a 62-61 lead with 54 seconds left. USC had taken its first lead of the second half with 1:34 left on a pair of free throws by Simon.
Oregon State (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12) was down by two after Minyon Moore made one of two free throws. A Katie McWilliams turnover — her only one of the game — against pressure by USC with eight seconds left ensured there would be no last-second heroics for the Beavers.
“They’re very athletic,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “We’re young at the guard spot. They’re veteran at the guard spot. I thought their pressure hurt us. They were very physical with us, forcing us into turnovers. Give them credit for making plays to get back in the game.”
Marie Gulich scored a team-best 16 points and Mikayla Pivec added 14 for the Beavers. Pivec made a half-court shot at the first quarter buzzer to give the Beavers a 22-13 lead. USC was down 40-28 at halftime but was undeterred.
“It’s a major (boost),” Edwards said. “On Friday we played Oregon tough but came up short. Oregon State is a good team. We made an adjustment. We stayed together. We stayed in it. We didn’t drop our heads when we were down by (17) points. We believed in each other and our coaching staff believed in us. Aliyah was the MVP for us this weekend. Her defense changed the game.”
Oregon State made 7 3-pointers in the first half, one in the second half. USC rallied in the third quarter with a 10-0 run —buoyed by turnovers on four consecutive possessions for Oregon State — and pulled within four points at 49-45.
“We just told the kids to pressure more. They run their stuff so well,” Trakh said. “We had to force them out of their comfort zone and pressure them a little more … We got some momentum going on our side. Sadie made some big shots. Kristen had 21 points and seven rebounds. Aliyah turned the game around with her defense. She really got after them. Really proud of Aliyah and all the kids.”
The Trojans played three nationally-ranked teams in their last four games.
Oregon State: The Beavers will return home to try to get back on track following a forgettable trip to Los Angeles that included two losses on the road to UCLA (84-49) and USC.
USC: The Trojans can feel good about themselves again by getting back in the conference picture with a victory Sunday.
Oregon State: Hosts Arizona State on Friday.
USC: Plays at Colorado on Friday.