Down To The Wire, USC Wraps Up Washington 62-55.
March 1, 2012
SEATTLE, WASH. - The USC women's basketball team wrested away another key win tonight in a 62-55 victory over host Washington. Every win is crucial for the Trojans in this final weekend of regular-season action, and junior Christina Marinacci stepped up in this one for a double-double effort to lead USC. It was a wild finish with the Trojans finally stealing a slim lead with 1:24 to go before closing it out to claim their fifth straight victory and avenge an earlier loss to the Huskies. USC improves to 17-11 overall and is now 11-6 in Pac-12 play to hold on to the No. 3 seed in the coming Pac-12 Tournament. Washington goes to 15-12, 7-10.
USC had to make a late surge to settle out a wild battle in the final stretch. The Trojans were cold in much of the second half as Washington climbed back into the lead. After shooting 39 percent in the first half, USC finished up at 32 percent from the floor, while Washington heated up from 36 percent to a final 43 percent effort, although USC commanded the boards 38-33. Marinacci was the driving force, finishing with 12 rebounds to go with her game-high 19 points. Briana Gilbreath was next with 15 points and six rebounds for USC. Washington got 18 points from Jazmine Davis and 11 from Regina Rogers on the night. Marinacci also snagged four steals - including a key late interception - as USC forced 19 turnovers from the Huskies while committing 11 of its own.
The Trojans and the Huskies tugged the lead back and forth in the middle stages of the first half before USC created some room. USC took the lead on a 3-pointer from Desiree Bradley with 8:22 to go as USC made a 10-1 scoring run on Washington to take a seven-point advantage, up 27-20 on free throws from Ariya Crook with 6:23 to go. The Huskies broke out of four and a half minutes of scoring silence from the floor with a bucket with 5:48 left in the first, only to see USC pad its lead out to nine points with a 34-25 halftime lead. USC was shooting at a 39-percent clip to that point to outpace Washington's 36 percent, and was even on the boards 17-17 with two Huskies - Mollie Williams and Regina Rogers limited by three fouls going into the break.
Washington opened up the second with a 6-0 run to clip the lead to three as Rogers stepped back into the paint as a big inside presence for the Huskies. Christina Marinacci worked her way into double digits with USC's first points of the half, but Washington would move on to tie it up three times, including a 43-43 lockup with 10:41 to go. Rogers gave Washington its first lead since the 10:15 mark of the first half on a score down low at 9:10, putting the pressure on the Trojans to regroup. Washington would work ahead by four with 8 minutes remaining, hitting at a 63-percent clip in the half to USC's 4-of-22, 18-percent effort at that juncture. Briana Gilbreath would put USC on top 52-51 with a take to the hoop at 5:15, putting the senior in double figures alongside Marinacci.
Washington pulled back ahead on free throws from Mollie Williams for a 53-52 Husky advantage with 3:38 to go. The USC defense forced a shot clock violation next, and Gilbreath would go on to steal the lead with two free throws at 1:24. Williams missed her two tries from the line and Marinacci snagged the rebound with 1:10 on the clock, and USC responded with a bucket from Gilbreath to get it to a three-point game in the final minute. Marinacci would nail four free throws and Ashley Corral hit two for the Trojans in the last 39 seconds to wrap up a 62-55 win for the Trojans.
USC now heads east to Pullman, Wash., to take on Washington State at 1 p.m. on Saturday (March 3).