USC Women Find Finishing Touch In OT, Topping CSUN 85-74|
Dec. 9, 2014
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC women's basketball team endured a wild one at Galen Center tonight, seeing all its hard work in the first half dashed by a rocky second half and yet getting new life from a last-ditch 3-pointer to force overtime. In OT, the Trojans kept their eyes on the prize and overwhelmed visiting Cal State Northridge in a tone more like its first-half performance. By the close of overtime, USC had created plenty of space and finished out with an 85-74 victory over the Matadors. USC improves to 6-2 overall with the win, while CSUN goes to 7-2.
USC had double the fouls as CSUN in the first half, but the Trojans were clicking on offense. Fifteen first-half assists fed the USC offensive efforts, as the Trojans shot 55 percent from the floor through the first 20 minutes of action. CSUN was at 38 percent from the floor, and hit 7-of-9 free throws in the first half, trailing the Trojans 41-30 at the break. That's where the wind changed in a major way. USC's 11-0 run to a comfy lead in the first half was negated by a cold spell in the second half and an answering rally by the Matadors, leaving it locked up at 59-59 entering the last four minutes of action. Down by three with 21 seconds left, USC would come alive when McKenzie Calvert got a friendly bounce off the board on her 3-point blast to level things 65-65 and force overtime. In OT the Trojans snagged an early lead and just kept adding to it. By the final buzzer, several Women of Troy had locked in with new career highs. Senior Alexyz Vaioletama had shouldered the load and carried her team with a career-high 24 points. Freshman Calvert -- deliverer of that clutch 3-point equalizer -- wound up with 21 points with help from four 3-pointers. Jordan Adams, meanwhile, contributed a career-high eight assists, and freshman Kristen Simon tallied a career-high 11 rebounds to lead USC's efforts on the boards.
USC finished out the game shooting 52 percent from the floor to CSUN's 41 percent. The Trojans owned the boards to the tune of a 43-33 rebounding margin, and served up 27 assists in the win. CSUN managed to force 20 turnovers by the Trojans in nabbing 14 steals down the stretch, but USC's resilience shined through to complete the tense win. Vaioletama and Calvert were joined in double figures by Kaneisha Horn and Kiki Alofaituli with 11 and 10 points, respectively. CSUN, too had four players hit double digits. Janae Sharpe and Ashlee Guay each had 19, Cinnamon Lister had 12 and Camille Mahlnecht had 10 for the Matadors.
USC's Courtney Jaco and McKenzie Calvert dumped in some clutch 3-pointers to help the Trojans create some early space, up 16-10 with 13:40 on the clock. USC's ball distribution was sharp, too. Jordan Adams' third assist in the first seven minutes found a streaking Calvert for the bucket and-one. The freshman would knock down another three soon after -- also assisted by Adams -- and the Trojans had crafted an 11-0 run to lead the Matadors 24-10 at the 12:00 mark. USC would keep that margin largely intact for the next stretch, with Calvert converting on another fast break, this one fed by Jaco, to take the Trojans ahead 35-20 entering the final five minutes of the half. Kristen Simon became the seventh Trojan to score with a bucket in the paint, making it 37-22 USC with three minutes to go. CSUN would muster up a 6-0 run soon after to cut the lead back down to single digits, only to see Kiki Alofaituli hit a jumper moments later to stop the rally and put the score at 39-28 USC entering the final minute, and USC would wind up taking a 41-30 lead into the locker room.
CSUN busted out the first two buckets of the second half, but Alexyz Vaioletama would drain a three and then serve up a block that fed a Brianna Barrett runner to build back USC's advantage, but it wouldn't last long as USC hit a cold streak. CSUN would manufacture a 12-2 surge in a six-minute span to haul within two points, down 48-46 with 11:39 to go. USC finally broke almost seven minutes of scoring silence with a score from Vaioletama off a feed from Adams, who hit a new career high with her eighth assist of the night. Vaioletama, meanwhile, worked into double digits with the bucket, and scored again on USC's next possession to help the Trojans to a 52-46 advantage at the 10-minute mark. She'd keep chugging, scoring another four points in a minute's work to carry USC to a 56-49 lead with 8:30 remaining. Again the Matadors found a spark. This one came with a 10-0 rally to steal away the lead, up 59-58 with 4:30 left to play in regulation. Kaneisha Horn stopped the run with a visit to the line, hitting the front end to lock it up 59-59 just 30 seconds later. A spinning score from Vaioletama had it even again at 61-61 with 2:05 to go, and CSUN would get into the bonus next, converting a pair of tosses to work into a 63-61 lead with 1:59 on the clock. After USC came up empty at the other end, CSUN scored in the paint to jump ahead 65-61 with a minute remaining. At the line with 46 seconds left, Barrett hit the back end to make it a three-point deficit, and USC forced the jump ball and took possession with 21 ticks to go. With the ball out of bounds with 11 seconds left, USC managed to work the ball over to Calvert, who sailed in a prayer and got the bounce off the backboard for the equalizer. Just 1.2 seconds remained in regulation, and the teams were locked up at 65-65. CSUN's last-gasp shot was off, and the teams stretched into overtime.
Vaioletama matched her career high of 21 points when she knocked down a go-ahead bucket to make it 69-67, and the senior would serve up back-to-back blocks on the defensive end to help send her Trojans back on the attack. Horn would deliver, and USC was up by four. With 1:20 to go, Calvert finished off a runner to the hole, and USC bumped out to a 76-71 advantage that would provide a key boost to the finish line. Sealing the deal for the Trojans was Barrett, who nabbed back-to-back steals in the final minute, and all of a sudden USC was up 81-71 with 30 ticks to go. All the drama would come to a close with Horn serving up the final points of the night, rounding out an 85-74 USC overtime victory.
USC continues its home stand with more action coming to Galen Center this weekend. The Trojans will host Sacramento State at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 14).