Women of Troy Win Wild Finish Over WSU
Jan. 13, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team received a heroic pair of free throws from sophomore guard Ariya Crook with less than a second remaining to net a dramatic 61-59 Trojan victory over visiting Washington State today at Galen Center. The Trojans endured 12 lead changes in the game as Crook's free throws answered a WSU 3-pointer that had the game tied with four seconds left. The USC victory is the fourth straight for the Trojans, who have turned a six-game losing skid into a winning start to Pac-12 play, as USC is off to its best conference start since the 2004-05 season and is currently atop the Pac-12 standings at 4-0 alongside rival UCLA. USC is now 7-8 overall with that 4-0 Pac-12 effort. WSU goes to 5-10, 1-3 with today's tight loss to the Trojans.
Tia Presley was the top provider for the Cougars in the first half, scoring 18 points to help WSU to a 32-28 halftime lead over the Trojans. USC was shooting 31 percent from the floor through the first 20 minutes of action, while WSU hit 39 percent in a wild first half. The second half would get even wilder, especially in the final minute of action. After WSU clawed out of a six-point hole, the Cougars would grab a one-point lead with 1:45 to go. USC would put in four straight free throws to take a 59-56 lead with 20 seconds left, but the Cougars nailed a tying three with just 4 ticks to go. However, Crook would get fouled as USC worked through the press breaker, and she finished off the win with two calmly placed free throws with 0.8 seconds remaining to lock down the 61-59 win for the Trojans.
Crook finished with 14 points and career highs of nine rebounds and six assists in the win, with USC leader Cassie Harberts recording her fifth double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds while working her way across the 1,000-point threshold in career scoring. Kate Oliver, too, finished in double digits with 10 points for the Trojans, who shot 34 percent from the floor in the game and went 20-of-24 from the free-throw line. WSU was led by Presley's 25 points, joined by Lia Galdeira - whose 3-pointer was the late-game equalizer - with 14 final points. The Cougars shot 31 percent from the floor and went 15-of-18 from the free-throw line. USC led on the boards 49-31 to help counter 23 Trojan turnovers in the game.
The Trojans were an icy 0-for-10 to start the game before Ariya Crook drained a three to cut the deficit to 8-5 WSU with 14:30 on the clock. The lead would trade hands six more times before WSU again mounted a run, going up 30-20 on a 13-2 surge entering the last four minutes of the half. USC would manage a 6-0 run to close out the half and make it a four-point deficit, down 32-28 at the break.
Kate Oliver helped make it an 8-0 USC run with a score out of the gates to pull USC back within two. After Presley and Crook traded threes, Brianna Barrett finished off a runner in the lane to force the first tie-up since the 11:10 mark of the first half. Locked at 37-37 with 14:25 on the clock, Crook gave USC its first lead since 9:00 in the first half with a free throw, but a see-saw battle would again ensue. Two free throws from Harberts and a stuff and post score from Oliver helped USC to its largest lead of the game, up 53-49 with 4:50 on the clock. That advantage would grow to 55-49 after a successful trip to the line from Brianna Barrett at 4:27. WSU managed to creep back into the lead in taking a 56-55 advantage entering the final minute of play. Crook got to the line with 53 seconds remaining and buried both to bump USC ahead 57-56, and Harberts would haul in the defensive board for the Trojans with 27 ticks to go. Harberts was sent to the line next, hitting the front end for a two-point lead as Alexyz Vaioletama pulled in a key offensive board. With 20 seconds left, it was Crook back on the line. She missed the first, but gave USC a three-point lead with the next for a 59-56 lead. WSU would come up with the equalizer in landing a three by Lia Galdeira with 4 seconds left in regulation. On the inbounds, a streaking Crook was fouled with 0.8 second on the clock to put the Trojan sophomore back on the line for a shot at clinching the win. Crook coolly deposited both, and Harberts got a hand on the entry pass to take up just enough time for the buzzer to sound before Katie Grad aired out a shot that banked in, but too late for the Cougars as USC squeaked out the 61-59 victory.
The Women of Troy now head north to face Cal and Stanford next week. USC visits Cal for a Thursday (Jan. 17) game at 6 p.m. in Berkeley. On Sunday (Jan. 20), the Trojans play at Stanford at 4 p.m. Both games will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.