Women of Troy Show Comeback Fight In Season-Opening Road Win
Nov. 8, 2013
DAVIS, CALIF. -- The USC women's basketball team put a dramatic flair on Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's first win as head coach of the Women of Troy, battling out of a second-half deficit to beat host UC Davis 64-55 tonight. The road win in USC's season opener didn't come easy, as the referee's whistle interrupted things and the Trojans also worked to find a rhythm in their first official game of the year. Still, behind clutch 3-pointers from Ariya Crook, who scored 24 points on the night, and a team effort that saw 10 Trojans score, USC pulled off its 27th season-opening victory and first under new head coach Cooper-Dyke.
USC led by as much as nine points in the first half but had to gut out seven lead changes and dig out of a three-point hole in the second half in order to match that nine-point advantage by the final buzzer. It was a topsy turvy first half for the Women of Troy, who had a hot first 12 minutes before a lull hit the Trojans as UC Davis slipped back into the lead. USC wrapped the first half clinging to a 32-28 lead on a 45-percent shooting effort from the floor. UC Davis had been aided by a bevy of trips to the line, as the Aggies went 12-of-14 from the stripe in the first half to accompany a 39-percent outing from the floor. In the second, things got even wilder, as trips to the line became more frequent and shooting from the floor slumped on both ends. In the end, The Trojans would win out, shooting 41 percent overall from the floor to UC Davis' 33 percent. The Trojans also outrebounded the Aggies 39-31 down the stretch.
Ariya Crook and her four 3-pointers led the way for all on the scoring front, as the junior finished with 24 points on the night, while Brianna Barrett joined her in double figures with 11. Barrett also swiped nine rebounds for the Trojan cause, followed by Cassie Harberts with eight boards. UC Davis got a team-high 14 points from Kelsey Harris and 10 from Molly Greubel.
The first point of the new season came fittingly from the hands of senior Cassie Harberts from her spot on the free-throw line. She hit the back end of her first visit to the stripe to get USC on the board after UC Davis opened the game with an early bucket. USC crept into the lead on a score from Alexyz Vaioletama next, and the Trojans would get out ahead of the Aggies 15-6 as USC was shooting at a 54-percent clip from the floor. Fouls, misses and more fouls put USC in a dry spell for almost four minutes of play, while the Aggies snatched back the lead. A string of visits to the free-throw line for UC Davis had the host up 16-15 on the Trojans with 8:54 remaining in the first until Ariya Crook broke the silence with a runner. Having put her team back on top, 17-16 with 8:06 on the clock, the junior took a charge at the other end to put the ball back in Trojan hands. Crook later landed her first 3-pointers of the year to give USC a boost to a 23-18 edge. And after USC freshman Drew Edelman recorded her first career points as a Trojans, the Women of Troy would carry a 32-38 advantage as the teams headed to the locker room at halftime.
The Aggies dumped in some timely threes to dampen USC spirits in the first stretch of the second half. The Trojans would trail by three and later two on those 3-pointers before USC finally manufactured a run to the lead, outscoring UC Davis 8-1 thanks to free throws from Briana Barrett, a three-point play from Ariya Crook and the first career 3-pointer nailed by freshman Courtney Jaco. That blast had USC up 46-41 on the Aggies with 11:00 to go. And yet, UC Davis would creep in and lock it up at 53-53 entering the final three minutes of play. Wide awake now, Crook surged to life from 3-point land. The junior buried back-to-back threes in the clutch, while Kiki Alofaituli added a take to the hoop that helped USC ahead 61-55 on the way into the final minute, forcing the Aggies to send the Trojans to the line down the stretch. USC made good on enough of those trips to ice the win as a 64-55 Trojan victory.
USC now heads southward for a visit to Fresno State. The Trojans will tangle with the Bulldogs in a 2 p.m. game on Sunday (Nov. 10) in Fresno.