USC Women Downed By Saint Mary's 71-55
Dec. 19, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC women's basketball team lost steam in the second half while visiting Saint Mary's heated up and left the Women of Troy out of reach, handing USC a 71-55 loss tonight at the Galen Center. Cassie Harberts hauled in a double-double for the Trojans, but USC struggled to catch the Gaels in the final minutes. USC goes to 5-5 overall with the loss, while Saint Mary's continues its historic best season start in improving to 9-1.
Cassie Harberts' 19th career double-double saw the senior climb up in the record books as she cracked the top-10 in rebounding at Troy and moved up to No. 14 all-time in career scoring. She also knocked down a set of free throws that pulled her even with Trojan great Lisa Leslie at No. 4 on USC's all-time free-throws made list. That was, for the most part, the brightest spot in a tough outing for the Women of Troy. Harberts was UCS's only player in double digits, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds while USC finished up hitting 39 percent in the game after a first half that saw USC hit 52 percent but commit 15 turnovers.
Saint Mary's held a 29-27 lead at halftime and heated up significantly in the second half, answering a 37-percent first half effort with 47 percent from the floor in the second. The Gaels' Jackie Nared had the hottest hand in that final 20 minutes, scoring 15 second-half points to finish with 21 points, while Kate Gaze led all with 22. SMC's Lauren Nicholson also provided double figures in finishing up with 12 points. USC outrebounded Saint Mary's 41-33 but was hurt by 24 total turnovers, which translated into 27 points for the Gaels.
After 2:30 of scoring silence at both ends of the court, Saint Mary's broke the seal first and dumped in six straight points, converting off of USC offensive fouls to put USC behind 6-0 by the 16:33 mark. Cassie Harberts snapped the scoring slump for USC by hitting the back end of her trip to the free-throw line, and USC was on the board dawn 6-1 with 15:48 on the clock. Another USC offensive foul shut down another Trojan possession, but USC would finally find a spark in crafting a 13-2 run to take the Trojans' first lead. Five different Women of Troy scored in the surge, led by five points produced by Desiree Bradley on a three and a runner to the hole that made it a 14-11 USC advantage with 11:11 to go. A three-point USC advantage would swing the other direction until Alexyz Vaioletama equalized on a three in the final minute. The Gaels would get one to go for the go-ahead, though, and Saint Mary's took a slim 29-27 lead into the locker room.
With Ariya Crook on the bench with three fouls, Brianna Barrett stepped in an delivered back-to-back buckets for the Trojans to carry USC back into the lead. Kiki Alofaituli hit a baseline jumper next, and USC was up 32-29 at 16:45. Saint Mary's Jackie Nared got a hot hand for a stretch and took the Gaels ahead by five, although USC closed the gap as Harberts worked her way into a double-double. Back in a five-point hole, USC stopped a 7-0 SMC run with a score from Kate Oliver. The Gaels had some more gas in the tank, though, setting off on an 8-0 run that buried USC by 11 with 5:55 remaining. Harberts delivered back-to-back baskets to stop the push and bring USC within seven a minute later. With 3:00 to go, the Trojans still had a good amount of ground to make up, down 62-52. Barrett buried both ends of her trip to the line, and then USC forced a Gael turnover next. One Harberts free throw was followed by a quick Gael bucket out of the press-break, and USC was fighting an uphill battle as the Trojans were forced to put SMC on the line in a frustrating effort to dig out of a now-double-digit deficit. The Trojans wound up out of time and out of reach, falling 71-55 to the visiting Gaels.
USC now turns to host Hawai'i in a 2 p.m. game on Saturday (Dec. 21) at Galen Center in an effort to get back in winning mode.