USC Women Team Up For 67-57 Road Win At Utah
Feb. 27, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The USC women's basketball team was a balanced force tonight in Salt Lake City. Led by a career-high 16 points from Kiki Alofaituli, the Trojans got eight players in on the scoring in securing a 67-57 victory over host Utah. The win is a big lift for the Women of Troy, who are looking to close out the regular season on a strong note in prep for the coming Pac-12 Tournament. USC is now 17-12 overall and 10-7 in Pac-12 play as it sets up to wrap the regular season on Sunday in Colorado. Utah is now 11-17 overall and 4-13.
The Women of Troy looked relatively comfortable on the floor in Huntsman Center, shooting 50 percent to overmatch their hosts in the first half. The Utes hit just under 30 percent in the first 20 minutes, although USC was struggling from the free-throw line to the tune of an 0-for-6 start from the stripe. Utah would have been lost without the efforts of Michelle Plouffe, who had a double-double by halftime with 12 points and 11 rebounds at the break. Her work down low was not enough to keep Utah in line with the Trojans' balance out of the gates, as USC got seven different scorers in on the action in the first half while also leading on the boards 22-18. The Utes would close to within three points during the second half as their shooting heated up a bit, but the Women of Troy were bound and determined to get the crucial road win. They'd finish ahead on the boards 44-40 and in the shooting column with a final 44-percent effort to overmatch Utah's 30 percent.
Almost half Utah's points and rebounds came from the hands of Plouffe, who hauled in 27 points and 18 rebounds for the Utes. Ciera Dunbar also hit double figures with 14 points, but that was far from enough to match the Trojans' total team effort. Eight Women of Troy scored in the game, with four hitting double figures. Leading them all was Kiki Alofaituli, who had a career day with a team-high 16 points while bringing in seven rebounds. Brianna Barrett was next with 13 points, joined by Alexyz Vaioletama with 11 and Cassie Harberts with 10 for her 12th consecutive game in double figures. Alofaituli, Harberts and Kaneisha Horn each hauled in seven boards for the Trojan cause. Barrett also served up six assists.
After a neck-and-neck start to the game, the Trojans fought off a 9-8 deficit with an 8-0 run while holding the Utes scoreless from the floor for over six minutes. That built a 16-9 lead for the Women of Troy, who would continue to outpace Utah in eventually constructing a double-digit lead, up 28-18 at 3:15 thanks to a bucket from Kiki Alofaituli and another 3-pointers from Brianna Barrett. Alofaituli pumped the Trojans up to a 30-18 lead next with a slick finish in the lane with 1:37 to go. USC would wrap the half holding a 32-22 advantage.
The Trojans worked out ahead 36-22 after Barrett drained the first free throws of the game for the Trojans, but Utah responded with an 8-0 run to cut the lead down to 36-30 three minutes into the second half. A minute later, the Utes had trimmed it down to a three-point game, prompting Cassie Harberts to dump in a score down low to take it to a 39-34 USC lead at 15:50. Harberts, Barrett and Alofaitulit would combine forces next to charge up the Trojans for a run that Desiree Bradley capped off at 9-0 with her first 3-pointer of the night. That jumped USC to a 48-36 lead with 12:30 on the clock. The streaky game continued with the Utes getting back within single digits with a 6-0 run that cut it to 52-45 USC with 8 minutes to go. With 5:20 to go, Kate Oliver became the eighth Trojan to score with a smooth jumper that had USC up 58-48. She'd bury another clutch basket with 2:30 to go to, while Alofaituli knocked down a jumper soon after for a lift to a 62-51 advantage with 1:50 remaining. It was a seven-point game entering the final minute of play, but Alofaituli was up to the task. She buried both her shots from the stripe to continue to build on her career day and help the Trojans wrap an eventual 67-57 road win.
The Trojans now look to finish off the regular season with a winning run as they now head to Boulder to take on Colorado at 12 p.m. MT on Sunday (March 2).