Trojans Get It Done On The Road, Outlasting Fresno State 63-54
Nov. 10, 2013
FRESNO, CALIF. -- The USC women's basketball team made it a winning start on the road in staying focused down the stretch at Fresno State today and pinning up a 63-54 victory. The Trojans had to adjust for a dangerous outside attack from the host Bulldogs, countering with a strong effort on the boards to limit second chances for their foes. Cassie Harberts and Alexyz Vaioletama led the charge with 12 rebounds apiece, as Harberts finished with her first double-double of the year in adding 13 points to the Trojan cause. USC now boasts a 2-0 start to the 2013-14 campaign -- the first season under new head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.
It was a key road effort for the Trojans, who were beaten by both UC Davis and Fresno State last season. This year, the Women of Troy have avenged both losses with nine-point victories -- this time on the road. USC's two wins to kick off the season marks the first time since the 2005-06 season that the Trojans have opened the year 2-0. That also was the last year that USC reached the NCAA Tournament.
The Trojans were on a roller coaster ride in the first half, creating a 14-point swing into the lead on some stingy defense before the Bulldogs hit back and closed the gap to 23-22 Trojans at halftime. USC was shooting at a 38-percent clip by the break, but were plagued by 11 turnovers. Fresno State was hitting at a cooler 22 percent from the floor but was slightly warmer from beyond the arc to stay within one point of the Trojans entering the final 20 minutes of action.
Once again, USC had to claw back from a second-half deficit, having trailed the Bulldogs by four with 11:42 remaining in the game. An assist from Harberts to Kate Oliver preceded a three-point play from Harberts to spark a lead that USC wouldn't relinquish the rest of the way. USC finished the game with Harberts in the books with a double-double on 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Ariya Crook led the squad with 14 points and Jordan Adams added 12. USC shot 40 percent from the floor in the game to outpace Fresno State's 32 percent day. The Bulldogs were led by 16 points from Bree Farley, while Alex Sheedy had a double-double of her own with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Trojans had to absorb an early perimeter attack by the Bulldogs, who landed two threes in taking an 8-2 lead out of the gates. The USC defense clamped down and kept Fresno State from scoring for almost eight full minutes as the Trojans made a 9-0 run into the lead. It was a Kate Oliver steal and Jordan Adams finish that gave USC a spark on the way to an 11-8 advantage.The Bulldogs would land only a single free throw during a drought that spanned almost 14 minutes as USC worked ahead 17-9 with 6:40 to go in the half. Taylor Thompson broke Fresno State's silence at 4:37, but Kiki Alofaituli landed a jumper of her own next for a 19-11 Trojan advantage with 4:20 remaining. It was the Trojans' turn to cool off next, and Fresno State took advantage with a push that closed the gap to just one point at halftime, with USC leading 23-22.
Fresno State shook up the Trojans with a 6-0 start to the second half to steal back the lead. Cassie Harberts collected her 10th rebound soon after dumping in her 10th point of the game as USC worked back into a 42-41 lead at the midway point of the half. USC made a push out to get up 50-43 on a couple more Harberts free throws only to see Fresno State wake up again, making a 7-2 push back to cut the Trojan lead down to two points, 52-50, with 4:41 remaining. Fresno State had a look at the lead, but Bree Farley's shot at her fourth 3-pointer rimmed out to give USC new life with under four minutes to go. The Trojans would carry a 55-50 lead into the final 1:30, with Alexyz Vaioletama making it a 57-50 edge with a successful trip to the line with 1:11 on the clock. That would be enough to keep the Bulldogs at bay. USC outpaced Fresno State from the line the rest of the way to lock in another win, this one a 63-54 victory in Fresno.
The Women of Troy now roll home to set up for a Wednesday (Nov. 13) game against San Diego State. USC hosts the Aztecs in a 4 p.m. matchup at Galen Center.