USC Women Crash The Waves In OT
Dec. 21, 2011
MALIBU, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team pulled out a tight one in Malibu today, turning the tide on a hot-shooting Waves squad to win out in overtime with a 75-71 victory over host Pepperdine. The win keeps intact an undefeated all-time record for USC vs. Pepperdine, extending the streak to 18-0 dating back to 1977. This one was a tough one, however - the first overtime affair between the programs in their history. This season, the Waves had already won twice in OT, but the Trojans were determined to pull this one out for a lift on the way into the coming Pac-12 openers. USC is now 5-5 overall, and Pepperdine goes to 5-6.
Today, the Trojans saw the Waves nail eight 3-pointers in the first half as Pepperdine built as big as a 10-point lead. USC trailed 42-35 at halftime, but came out of the gates determined and focused. Lauren Bell, who had 18 points at halftime, would get just four more in the second, and Pepperdine would not hit another 3-pointer the rest of the way as the Trojan defense tightened up. USC finished the game with a 52-33 advantage on the boards - crucial in securing victory today - and shot 41 percent from the floor to Pepperdine's 38 percent. Cassie Harberts led all with 23 points on the day, and Stefanie Gilbreath was next with 10. Christina Marinacci hauled in 12 rebounds, and Briana Gilbreath finished with a career-high nine assists. Pepperdine was led by Bell's 22 points, with Jazmine Jackson getting 17 and Katie Menton adding 15 for the Waves.
In the first half, Pepperdine's 3-point attack helped the Waves erase what had been a five-point Trojan advantage and built up a 40-30 Pepperdine lead when Lauren Bell drained the Waves' eighth three of the first half at 2:40. USC's long bombs, meanwhile, were rattling and rolling off the rim, and although the Trojans were well invested on the boards USC would trailed 42-35 at halftime.
The USC defense tightened the screws to open the second half, while Trojan threes came back into play. With 3-pointers from Ashley Corral and Stefanie Gilbreath to go along with scores from Briana Gilbreath and Cassie Harberts, USC made a 10-0 run to steal back the lead on Stefanie's bomb at 16:20, up 45-42 on the Waves. The Trojan offense would lag later, though, as USC lost the lead while coming up empty for almost four minutes until Harberts converted on a three-point play to pull the Trojans back into the lead, up 56-55 with 7:30 to go.
The see-saw battle continued before two free throws from Stefanie Gilbreath locked it up 63-63 with 1:46 remaining. Briana Gilbreath's go-ahead attempt take to the hoop rolled off the rim, and Pepperdine had the ball with 11.7 seconds to go. But the Waves missed their try on the other end, and USC regained possession with 4.6 ticks to go. The long bomb from Ariya Crook to win it was just off the mark, and overtime was on the board in Malibu.
Pepperdine struck first in OT, but Corral followed with a go-ahead three for the Trojans. USC stayed stubborn on defense, meanwhile, and had worked its way to the free throw line to move its lead out to five points on two tosses from Harberts with 1:18 to go. Briana Gilbreath answered a Waves score with a bucket of her own to keep that extra padding for the Trojans. Pepperdine would get no closer than two points thanks to USC's ownership of the boards and concerted effort on defense. A late three try to tie by the Waves was off, and Harberts sucked in the rebound and finished off the game from the line for a 75-71 Trojan victory.
After a break for the holidays, USC will return to the Galen Center to kick off the Pac-12 season. The Trojans will first host Stanford on Dec. 29 in a 7 p.m. clash at Galen. An on New Year's Eve, USC hosts California in an 11 a.m. matchup.