Vaioletama Scores Buzzer Beater For USC Road Win|
Jan. 4, 2013
CORVALLIS, ORE. - Rims on the road aren't always friendly to visiting teams. Cassie Harberts found that out the hard way when her two late free throws rimmed out to leave USC still trailing by one with six seconds to go tonight at Oregon State. But Harberts' otherwise hot hand helped keep the heat off her teammates in the final minutes, and it was sophomore Alexyz Vaioletama who got the friendly winning roll on her buzzer-beating layup to get USC a 56-55 win over Oregon State tonight in Corvallis. The victory snaps a six-game losing skid by the Trojans, who now have their Pac-12 opening win in hand for a 1-0 start to conference play coupled by a 4-8 overall record. The Beavers go to 6-7, 0-1 with the wild finish to tonight's game.
Cassie Harberts had 14 of USC's 20 first-half points, including all 10 of the Trojan points in the last 10 minutes of the half. OSU's scoring effort was not quite as dramatically one-sided, but still decidedly charged by Jamie Weisner's 13 points as the Beavers led USC 25-20 at the break. Outside of Harberts, the rest of the Trojans were shooting just 10 percent (2-of-20) from the floor, as USC was hitting at just 21 percent in the first half to OSU's 36 percent, which included three 3-pointers that had propelled the Beavers into the lead.
The second half was an all-out tug-of-war as the lead changed hands nine more times. No lead changes were more dramatic than those in the final 20 seconds, when OSU took a 55-54 lead after trailing the Trojans for almost nine minutes. That would set up Vaioletama's heroics. After Harberts' free-throw tries both slipped off the rim, Christina Marinacci hauled in her 12th rebound of the game and helped get USC the ball out of bounds underneath. Vaioletama took the inbounds and found Crook, who returned the favor and hit her fellow sophomore down low for the layup and the fortuitous roll that netted USC the road win.
Harberts and OSU's Weisner would finish even with 27 points apiece. Harberts was the only Trojan with double-digit scoring, though Marinacci and Kate Oliver hauled in 12 rebounds apiece. OSU also received 10 points from Alyssa Martin, including a late three that cranked up the dramatics in the final minute. USC finished the game shooting 31 percent from the floor to Oregon State's 38 percent. The Trojans finally put together a strong second half, outshooting their hosts 36-30 in the final 20 minutes to work toward the win.
An early 6-0 USC run into the lead was extinguished quickly by three straight 3-pointers by the Beavers, who would get up 21-12 with 9:00 on the clock thanks to a 13-2 OSU run. Not getting many calls on her efforts down low, junior Cassie Harberts popped out and nailed a long two for the Trojans to help provide a spark later in the half. She'd slip in another score to cut it down to a 21-16 deficit entering the final 2:30, while Brianna Barrett helped get the ball back in Trojan hands with a pair of steals. It was all Harberts for USC down the stretch, as she worked her way into her 12th straight game in double figures while OSU was able to take a 25-20 lead on its visitors by halftime.
Kate Oliver got in on the scoring action for USC an helped bring the Trojans within one with a pair of buckets. With Harberts on the bench resting with three fouls, USC was able to finally tug into its first lead since the 14:50 mark of the first half, up 29-28 with 15:05 on a putback from Alexyz Vaioletama. No lead was safe for a good XXX-minute stretch from there. Harberts would help USC to match a four-point lead - its largest since the 14-minute mark of the first half - with a take to the hole that made it 42-38 Trojans with 7:50 remaining.
A Harberts free throw would bump the USC advantage out to five for a piece of real estate that would prove valuable considering that OSU's Weisner had a couple of dangerous 3-pointers in her arsenal. It was a 52-50 USC lead on the way into the final two minutes of action. Brianna Barrett got herself open down low for a Trojan score that made it 54-50 with a minute to go, but OSU's Alyssa Martin drained a three next to make it interesting. A Trojan turnover on the inbounds had the ball back in Beaver hands with 31 ticks to go, with USC up 54-53. OSU would get Deven Hunter at the post for the go-ahead score, as the Beavers sneaked ahead 55-54 and USC took a timeout to set up with 13 seconds left. Harberts would go to the line for the chance to win it with 6 seconds on the clock, but both her free throws rimmed out. Marinacci was there for the rebound, and though her putback was blocked out of bounds, USC had the ball underneath with 4.6 seconds left. The ball got to Crook at the top, who took a couple dribbles left and slipped a pass low to Vaioletama on the post. She'd put the ball up, watch it bounce on the rim as the buzzer sounded and then roll happily through for the long-awaited USC victory.
USC now heads to Eugene to face Oregon in a 1 p.m. game on Sunday (Jan. 6).