USC Women Fend Off Wildcats For 54-45 Road Win
Jan. 12, 2014
TUCSON, ARIZ. -- The USC women's basketball team had to fend off the referees' whistles and a late push from host Arizona to bring home a road win today. Despite the obstacles and a spirited push by the Wildcats, the Trojans emerged victorious with a 54-45 victory, led once again by a strong day from Alexyz Vaioletama. The win in Tempe improves USC to 11-6 overall and to 4-1 in Pac-12 play, while Arizona goes to 4-11, 0-4.
The Trojan defense gave up zero offensive rebounds by the Wildcats in building a 24-9 rebounding advantage until Arizona grabbed its first offensive board with 2:45 to go in the first half. That rebounding domination had USC up 26-14 on the boards and 28-17 on the scoreboard by halftime. Neither team was shooting particularly well, but the Trojans got a big boost from five 3-pointers nailed in the first 20 minutes of action. USC was shooting 32 percent by the break to outpace Arizona's 29 percent.
In the second half, USC had a good head of steam going in taking a 42-23 lead thanks to a 12-0 Trojan scoring run. As the foul count swayed heavily against the Trojans, USC also hit a scoring slump. Arizona cut it to a five-point game entering the final two minutes with the Trojans coming up empty from the floor for the last 5:55 of play. But USC freshman Courtney Jaco came up big from the free-throw line in the last stretch, going 4-for-4 to put Arizona out of reach. USC finished out the game still out-shooting Arizona, going 34 percent from the floor to pair with a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line and five 3-pointers nailed in the win. Arizona shot 30 percent from the floor. Both teams had just a single player finish in double figures, with USC led by Vaioletama's game-high 16 points and Arizona topped by Candice Warthen's 12 points USC ended up outrebounding Arizona 44-33 in the game.
Kaneisha Horn hauled in four rebounds and Cassie Harberts had USC's first four points in a tight start against the Wildcats. Alexyz Vaioletama pumped USC ahead with a three, and Kiki Alofaituli followed that with a pick and a finish for a three-point play that carried the Trojans up to a 10-6 lead at 12:45. USC was dominating the boards to the tune of a 20-8 advantage in keeping Arizona silent from the floor for almost eight full minutes. A free throw would come for Arizona in that stretch, but it took a bucket from Candice Warthen at 8:15 to bring the Wildcats within one, down 10-9 to the Trojans, who had also fallen into a scoring slump. Horn broke the silence with her first 3-pointer as a Trojan, nailing her shot to perk up her Women of Troy. That blast lit the fuse on a 10-2 USC scoring rally to a 20-11 lead. With 2:00 remaining, Desiree Bradley buried a three for the Trojan cause, and USC was up to a 10-point lead on its hosts. Vaioletama's second three of the half was the last word, taking USC to a 28-17 lead going into the locker room.
There weren't many whistles in the game, but Cassie Harberts was the unfortunate recipient of four of them, tagged with a mysterious fourth foul with 13 minutes still remaining in the game. The Trojans were in the midst of a 12-0 run when Harberts took an early rest, having scored the seventh points of that run. Arizona snapped the Trojan outburst with its first 3-pointer of the day to cut what had been a 19-point USC lead to 43-26 with 11:40 on the clock. The referee's whistle interrupted the Trojan momentum several more times as Arizona got into bonus for the last 8 minutes of action. Deanna Calhoun managed a putback that stopped a 7-0 Wildcat rally, and Kiki Alofaituli answered another gifted trip to the line for Arizona with a bucket that had USC ahead 46-32 with 7:50 to go.
Harberts checked back into the game with 6:02 to go while Arizona was at the line once again. She'd smoothly drop in a bucket on her first touch to get USC a 50-34 lead with 5:55 on the clock. Two minutes later, however, Arizona was in double bonus as the foul count swung against the Trojans, 10-4, with the Wildcats not dealt a foul for almost 10 full minutes. On their heels trying to avoid fouling, USC saw Arizona score 11 straight points in cutting the score down to single digits as USC held a 50-45 lead entering the last two minutes of play. USC hadn't hit a shot since that score from Harberts with 5:55 on the clock until Jaco went to the line for a successful two with 36 seconds left. She'd nab the steal for the Trojans next, and USC had the ball with 33 ticks to go. Jaco again came up big from the line, planting two more in the Trojan column to put USC out of reach, up 54-45 with 26 seconds left for the win.
USC now returns home to take on the Oregon schools at Galen Center. The Trojans will first host Oregon State in a 6 p.m. game on Friday (Jan. 17) and then turn to face Oregon at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 19). Both games will be televised by Pac-12 Networks.