Utah Unravels USC Women 63-60
Feb. 1, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team lost the lead early in the second half and couldn't find an answer as the Trojans came up short of visiting Utah for a 63-60 loss tonight at Galen Center. A 10-point hole proved too deep for the Trojans, who saw Utah stay a step ahead down the stretch. USC falls to 8-12 overall and 5-4 in Pac-12 play, while Utah goes to 11-9, 2-7.
Ariya Crook and Cassie Harberts combined for 29 of USC's 34 second-half points, finishing with 20 and 19 points, respectively, for the Trojans. But the hot hands of the Utes proved more balanced than the Women of Troy. Utah heated up in the second half to eclipse USC's 26-24 halftime advantage as the Utes shot 57 percent in the second half to finish at 44 percent in the game. USC shot 34 percent from the floor in the game and just 18 percent from 3-point range - another category that Utah owned in nailing 7-of-12 threes in the game. That advantage from beyond the arc helped open up opportunities for Utah's Iwalani Rodrigues, who scored 10 straight points for the Utes during the second half in finishing with a game-high 23. Michelle Plouffe added 14, and Paige Crozon had 13 for Utah. USC did finish ahead on the boards, 40-30, led by 12 from Alexyz Vaioletama.
Teams were both hitting at right around a 31-percent clip by halftime, but it was Utah's 3-point attack helped keep pressure on the Trojans in the first half. Five of Utah's seven field goals made in the first half came from beyond the arc, as the Utes led by as much as four thanks to that 3-point effort. It was a concerted USC rebounding effort that aided the Trojan cause, with USC outrebounding Utah 23-15 as the Trojans took a 26-24 lead into the locker room.
Kate Oliver landed her fourth 3-pointer of the season and first since Dec. 15 to lock USC even at 20-20 with 4:40 to go in the first. While her fellow post player Cassie Harberts continued to be knocked around down low, Utah was able to creep ahead on that hot 3-point game. It was a bomb from Ariya Crook with 2:32 on the clock that finally lifted USC ahead, and Harberts would soon deliver from the free-throw line in dropping three straight to make it a 26-24 USC lead at the half. Those free throws also bumped Harberts up to No. 8 all-time in career free throws made.
The Utes' 3-point game kept clicking in the second half. That helped open up Iwalani Rodrigues, who scored 12 straight points for the Utes to counter five from Harberts as Utah crept to a 42-35 lead - the largest for either team to that point - with 11:41 to go. Michelle Plouffe would finish off an 8-0 Utah run to a 44-35 Utah lead before Ariya Crook put a stop to the streak with a runner with 11:00 on the clock.
USC would dip behind by 10 as Utah continued its sharp-shooting. The Utes were hitting at 61 percent from the floor in the half in holding a 49-41 advantage with 7:30 remaining in regulation. USC trailed 51-45 entering the final four minutes, with Utah's second leading scorer Plouffe fouling out with 4:13 to go. USC pulled up into a defensive press as USC trailed by eight entering the last three minutes of play. The Trojans cut as close as four, thanks to a three-point play from Crook with 49 ticks to go. USC would keep the pressure on the Utes, following up Utah free throws with another Crook bucket to keep the margin at four just six seconds later. With 18 seconds left, Crook took it to the hole once again, and USC was within three, down 60-57. Crook delivered yet again to put USC down two, and Utah's Cheyenne Wilson went to the line with 11.8 seconds to go. She'd miss both, and Harberts would step to the line for two tosses with 4.8 ticks on the clock. Harberts missed the first and landed the second, and USC was down 61-60 with 4.8 seconds left to come up with an answer. Utah's Crozon went to the line for the Utes and made both, leaving USC to go for a last-second three. Crook's toss was before the buzzer, but just short, and USC was stuck with a 63-60 loss to Utah.
USC now turns to host No. 22 Colorado in a 10 a.m. morning matchup at Galen Center on Sunday (Feb. 3). The game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.