USC Women Make It 3-0 With Another Win To Open New Era
Nov. 13, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC women's basketball team are off to a 3-0 start in its 2013-14 campaign under new head coach and Trojan great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. The Women of Troy played their home opener today against San Diego State, which had handed USC a big loss last season. This year, the Trojans were ready for the Aztecs and stayed composed down the stretch to fend off a late push and lock in a 65-61 win over visiting San Diego State. The win puts the Trojans at 3-0 overall, marking the first time since the 1998-99 season that USC has made such a winning start. San Diego State goes to 0-2 with the loss.
San Diego State scored more points from the free-throw line than it did from the floor in the first half as the referees' whistles blew 13 fouls against the Trojans in the first 20 minutes of play. USC's counterattack was a stifling defense that forced 15 Aztec turnovers and converted 12 points off those pickoffs. USC led by as much as 19 points during the first half, but that was trimmed down to a 32-19 lead at the half. USC had hit at a 42-percent clip from the floor to outpace the Aztecs' 16-percent effort, although SDSU was 13-of-16 from the free-throw line by halftime.
In the second half, USC's foul trouble put the Trojans on the heels a bit more and created some space for San Diego State's Cierra Warren to heat up. She had zero points at halftime but would finish with a game-high 21 to fuel a late push from the Aztecs. San Diego State cut things down to three points in the final seconds but ran out of time. Credit the Trojans with some key surges of scoring in the second half to help build up a lead that would prove just insurmountable for the Aztecs. By the final buzzer, the Women of Troy had cooled to 40 percent shooting while SDSU finished out at 43 percent thanks to a hot 64-percent effort in the second half. USC overmatched the Aztecs on the board 38-32 and finished with 11 steals to SDSU's seven.
USC's scoring effort was led by Ariya Crook with 18 points and Cassie Harberts with 17, with Alexyz Vaioletama adding 12. Warren was the top scorer on the night with her 21 points, joined by teammate Danesha Long with 12 for the Aztecs.
San Diego State struck first to open the game, but the Trojans countered with a 7-0 run into the lead. The Aztecs got another to go, only to see Cassie Harberts get hot for six points while Ariya Crook drained another three to carry USC ahead 16-4 after 10 minutes of action. Some Trojan grunt work on the defensive end helped charge up another surge. Jordan Adams set a new career high for herself in nabbing a third steal and converting it for two at the other end to make it a 22-5 Trojan advantage with 7:25 on the clock. Brianna Barrett was next with a pick for points, giving USC a 19-point lead. The Trojan defense held the Aztecs scoreless from the floor for over 10 minutes as SDSU was only able to convert from the free-throw line until Ahjalee Harvey landed a jumper with 4:15 to put the score at 26-9 USC. In a turn of the tide, the Aztecs woke up from there, outscoring USC 10-6 the rest of the way to make it a 32-19 lead at halftime.
The Aztecs closed the gap down to a single-digit Trojan lead in the first five minutes of the second half until Cassie Harberts and Alexyz Vaioletama delivered back-to-back buckets to creep ahead 46-34 with 14:20 on the clock. It was back at a nine-point margin with nine to go before the Trojans generated a rally thanks in part to five points from Ariya Crook, whose three-point play built the Trojans up to a 62-48 lead with 3:30 remaining. That padding helped USC absorb any Aztec hopes of a comeback down the stretch. San Diego State's Cierra Warren tried to mix things up as she worked her way up to 17 points on the night. She provided 12 of 13 SDSU points as the Aztecs cut it to a 64-60 USC lead with 21 seconds remaining. The Aztecs hit the back end of a late trip to the line to make it a three-point game, calling a timeout to set things up with 3.3 ticks to go. Crook was sent to the line with 2.6 on the clock. She'd miss the first to create some drama, but iced the second to ease USC out of reach for the 65-61 victory.
USC's next action takes the Trojans to Oklahoma State next week. The Women of Troy visit the Cowgirls for a 7 p.m. CT game on Nov. 22 in Stillwater, Okla.
USC 65, SAN DIEGO STATE 61 11/13/13 4 p.m. at Galen Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)