USC Women Ice The Road Win, Beating Colorado 66-59
March 2, 2014
BOULDER, COLO. -- The USC women's basketball team secured a fifth-place finish in the Pac-12 with a wild but strong finish for a 66-59 road win over Colorado today in Boulder. The Women of Troy led by as much as 14 points during the first half before the Buffs made a push to even the score in the second half. Colorado took a slim 1-point lead with 1:22 remaining only to see the Women of Troy dig in and ice the victory in tallying the last eight points of the game. USC improves to 18-12 overall with this winning road trip to finish at 11-7 in Pac-12 play. Colorado goes to 16-13, 6-12.
While it was well below freezing outside, the Trojans were able to remain warm on the floor, shooting 48 percent in the first half of play to outpace host Colorado's 38 percent and take a 34-22 lead into the locker room at the break. Balance again was key for the Women of Troy, who had seven players in the scoring column by halftime while also winning out on the boards 20-16. There were 25 fouls whistled in the first half, marking a stop-and-start first 20 minutes of action as the fouls piled up on both rosters for the second half of play. The Buffs were able to gather up steam in the second half, however, heating up from the floor to heap pressure on the Trojans, who had cooled down significantly. USC shot a meager 26 percent from the floor in the second half while Colorado upgraded to 40 percent, but USC stayed strong from the free-throw line as the foul count continued to climb for both teams. In the end, USC had shrugged off a late CU lead and stormed to victory on a 26-of-34 effort from the stripe. Colorado hit just 9-of-21 in the game by comparison. The Trojans finished up shooting 35 percent from the floor to trail Colorado's 39 percent. The Buffs also wound up ahead on the boards 43-41.
USC was led by a game-high 18 points from Ariya Crook and 14 points from Cassie Harberts. Crook also went 11of-12 from the line to help haul in the victory for the Trojans. Colorado had four players finish in double digits, let by 15 from Brittany Wilson and 10 apiece from Ashley Wilson, Zoe Beard-Fails and Jamee Swan.
Alexyz Vaioletama sparked an early run for the Trojans, slipping in back-to-back buckets before Kaneisha Horn added one of her own to carry USC to a 9-6 lead on a 6-0 scoring spurt. The Buffs would tug even at 10-10 nearing the 10-minute mark, but USC responded with another 6-0 run -- this one capped by a 3-pointer from Courtney Jaco to make it a 16-10 USC advantage with 8:30 on the clock. She'd bury another big one a couple minutes later to pump the Trojans up to a 24-14 lead that Harberts extended to a 12-point padding on a pair of free throws. The Trojans defense forced a Colorado shot clock violation next, and Alofaituli made them pay with a baseline jumper next to make it 28-14 with 5:40 to go in the half. By the halftime buzzer, USC was holding a 34-22 advantage after Ariya Crook had one last successful trip to the line before the break.
The Buffs came out with renewed energy with a 14-2 scoring surge in the first six minutes bring the game even at 36-36 with 14:20 on the clock. Brianna Barrett broke the silence for USC with a 3-pointer at 13:45 to wake the Trojans back up and take a 39-36 lead. Free throws from Harberts and Crook were topped off by a 3-pointer from Crook -- her first points from the floor in the game -- to boost the Trojans to a 47-38 lead as the 10-minute mark approached. USC would miss a couple layups next as the Buffs crept closer with both teams getting buried in the bonus. USC's Desiree Bradley drained a key three to make it a 52-44 USC lead at 7:40. The teams traded scores for the next three minutes until Colorado was able to get back-to-back scores and cut the score to 56-52 with 3:49 to go. The Buffs were gifted another chance with a quick jump ball whistle that gave them back the ball. Colorado converted on the chance, and later made the most of an offensive call against Harberts, tying it up at 56-56 with that 8-0 scoring surge. Harberts had her revenge with a successful trip to the line at 2:22 to get USC back in the lead. Brittany Wilson would convert a go-ahead three-point play for the Buffs a minute later to give CU its first lead since the first four minutes of the game. Crook calmly drained her two tosses from the stripe for USC next, however, and the Trojans held a 60-59 edge with 56 ticks to go. Harberts and the Trojans would come up with a big defensive stop to spark a Crook breakaway layup for a key late lift to a 62-59 USC lead with 35 seconds left, and the Women of Troy would follow up CU misses with a winning effort from the free-throw line to wrap up a 66-59 USC victory.
USC now wraps up the No. 5 seed for the Pac-12 Tournament, setting up for a first-round game on Thursday (March 6) against No. 12 seed Arizona at Key Arena in Seattle.