USC falls to 18-12 overall with tonight's loss at the Pac-12 tourney.
March 8, 2012
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - If rebounds were points, the USC women's basketball team would have been in solid shape for tonight's Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal game against Washington State at the Galen Center. As it was, however, the Cougars' hot hands from beyond the arc spelled doom for the cool-shooting Trojans, snapping a six-game win streak. WSU passed up USC late in the first half and just continued to create space on the Trojans, leaving USC with a 69-55 loss that puts the Trojans at 18-12 overall.
The Cougars drained 10 threes in the game with a scoring attack that saw WSU shoot 50 percent from beyond the arc to go along with 22 points scored off USC's 17 turnovers in the game. USC senior Briana Gilbreath led all with a double-double on 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Christina Marinacci delivered 13 points and Cassie Harberts hauled in 12 rebounds. That effort helped USC win out on the boards 51-36, but it was poor shooting to the tune of 26 percent from the floor that hampered USC's comeback hopes. WSU finished out shooting at a 45-percent clip, led by 15 points from April Cook, 12 from Jazmine Perkins and 11 from Rosie Tarnowski. That trio accounted for seven of WSU's 3-pointers in the game.
Shooting just 17 percent from the floor entering the last four minutes of the first half, USC trailed WSU 19-18. The Cougars would plant two quick threes to bump ahead 25-20, and maintained that padding for a 30-25 halftime advantage over the Trojans.
WSU heated up further in the second half and landed four more 3-pointers to bulk up the Cougars' lead and leave the Trojans scrambling to fight back. USC was still within five after the first five minutes of the half, but WSU struck out on a 9-0 run, and USC would trail by double figures the rest of the way.
USC seniors Briana Gilbreath
and Ashley Corral
played in their 128th career game tonight, matching the all-time high set by Trojan great Cheryl Miller. With three assists, Corral moved up to No. 3 all-time in career assists (466). Gilbreath's double-double was the 14th of her career. And with 13 points tonight, Marinacci has scored in double digits in the past four games.
USC now awaits word on a potential at-large berth in the coming NCAA Tournament, which the Trojans last played in in 2006. USC entered this 2012 Pac-12 Tournament with an RPI of 30, having played the 11th toughest schedule in the nation with 10 games played against teams currently ranked or receiving votes in the AP poll.
USC Head Coach Michael Cooper
"I'd like to first of all congratulate Washington State. I thought that they were a team that came in and played extremely well. It's always tough beating a team three times in a row. Having played them twice in eight days, they had a chance to make some adjustments. With them playing a game the night before I thought that they were in a little better of a rhythm. But again, I am not disappointed. I am not anything other than very honored and proud of our players that played all year long. This was a very difficult and grinding season for us. We went out and played a top-10 - top-seven schedule and in some cases it wore us out but in other cases it made us a much better basketball team. For our seniors I'm very sorry, but touched in the fact that this is probably their last game. We're still going to leave it up to the committee and hope that we've done some things good enough to let ourselves in but it's a long shot. In the same respect, our returning kids [have] a good foundation that they can take and move forward and turn the program around. When I first came here with Ms. [Brianna] Gilbreath our biggest concern was taking the program and making it a program that they could be proud of as well as the people and alumni of USC and I think that we've done that. This is just a hard moment to talk about because our dreams and visions were much further than this, but it ends today. But I am very proud of these young ladies and the effort that they gave us today."
USC senior Briana Gilbreath
On being aware of Washington State's game intensity tonight ...
"I kind of noticed it in the first half. They were really getting after it and we definitely played hard. When we came in at halftime we said, `Alright, we definitely have to start winning the hustle plays,' and I thought that we brought the energy in the second half. We might not have scored the way we wanted to score but we matched their energy a lot better in the second half than the first. They just came out with a lot of fire and I thought that in the second half we came out with a little bit more."
USC junior Christina Marinacci
On being able to take positives from this season...
"If this is the end, it's not the way we wanted it to end but we did a lot of great things this season. Our preseason schedule was one of the top in the country and we really took some teams down to the wire: Texas A&M, we beat Gonzaga at their place which is a tough place to play at; Georgia - we played them tough. It just goes on but there are some things that we've taken from this year. It's tough felling the good things when it's ending the way that you don't want it to. I can't say that I didn't have fun this year. I loved the team that I played with. I had a great sense of camaraderie on this team and that's also why it makes it so hard not making it to the tournament because you want to make it for the seniors, you want to make it for the rest of the girls on your team. Despite everything, I'm happy to say that I'm a part of this team."
Washington State Head Coach June Daugherty
"First of all I just want to congratulate USC on a great season. They went out and challenged themselves, fought and played a tremendously competitive preseason. They did a great job and obviously they have done amazing in the Pac-12. I believe they are in the Tournament, I hope that they are in the Tournament. (Head) coach Cooper has done an amazing job and hats off to their seniors. Personally I have known (G) Ashley (Corral) for a long time and really respect her as well as the rest of the players in that program. As far as Washington State, we are really proud to take the next step in our program. Yesterday was historic and this was even better, I think. The seniors played like seniors, they led this program for four years especially this year with all the ups and downs that we have had. It is such a thrill as a coaching staff to watch them play especially the way they played today. They played together and all four of them had a huge impact of the game. We are looking forward to the next step we are excited about going over to the Staples Center. I thank USC for being a great hostess and we look forward to keep moving on."
"We almost led wire to wire I think that there was one point when USC was up by four on us. I have enormous respect for Michael Cooper and his program they had an amazing preseason. What they have done in conference whether they lost today us or not, I just hope that they are in the tournament. We just get more focused on our kids and how well they are playing. That is what is exciting about this move."