USC Women Create Second-Half Surge To Beat Hawai'i 66-55
Dec. 21, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC women's basketball team registered a second-half comeback for the first time this season as the Trojans turned up the boosters in the final 20 minutes of action to take over the game and hold on for a 66-55 win over visiting Hawai'i today at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy outrebounded the Rainbow Wahine 27-9 in the second half to anchor that come-from-behind effort, as the Trojans turned a 10-point deficit at halftime into an 11-point final margin of victory. USC improves to 6-5 overall with the win, while Hawai'i drops to 6-5.
USC looked in good position for a competitive first half of play before Hawai'i clamped down in the final stages of the half. Unable to score from the floor for the final 6:45 of the half, USC stumbled into a 33-23 halftime deficit at the hands of the determined Rainbow Wahine. Hawai'i upped its game to outshoot the Trojans 41 percent to 25 percent in the first 20 minutes, while also edging out USC on the boards 20-18 as the hosts dipped behind their visitors by double figures going into the locker room.
In the second half, USC more than switched gears. The Trojans crashed the boards with a fresh focus and warmed up from the floor, thanks in part to a career day from Desiree Bradley, who scored 10 points in the second half to match her career best of 11 in the game. Cassie Harberts remained USC's warrior down low, finishing with 16 points, while Alexyz Vaioletama came up big again with 12 points. Ariya Crook led all in the game with 18 points, 11 of which came from the free-throw line, where much of the game was spent in the late stages of the game. USC turned up its scoring effort and finished out the game shooting 40 percent, while Hawai'i cooled down to 33 percent in being outscored 43-22 in the second half by the Trojans. USC also turned the tide on the boards and finished up ahead 45-29 in the rebounding column. Hawai'i was led in scoring by Ashleigh Karaitiana's 13 points, along with 10 apiece from Shawna-Lei Kuehu and Morgan Mason.
USC was playing catchup out of the gates until Vaioletama helped light a spark for the Trojans, contorting on a three-point play to pull USC out of an early four-point hole. She'd next set the Trojans off on a 9-1 run into the lead, with the go-ahead bucket coming from the hands of Destinie Gibbs with 11:40 on the clock. USC's rally stalled out when Hawai'i countered with a surge that included a pair of 3-pointers to take back the lead, up 17-15 with 7:05 to go. Kiki Alofaituli equalized with a jumper, and Vaioletama had a successful trip to the line to slide the Women of Troy back in front entering the final five minutes of the half. The Rainbow Wahine were ready and waiting for the Trojans in that last stretch, however, keeping USC scoreless from the floor for the final 6:45 while crafting a 17-4 run to a 33-23 halftime advantage on the Trojans.
The Trojans tidied things up an upped their investment on the boards, hauling in seven rebounds to just one by the Rainbow Wahine in the first five minutes while closing the gap on the scoreboard to five points. Desiree Bradley dumped in a outback and then tossed in a three to get USC within two, then hauled in a defensive board to send USC off the other direction. Bradley would be the provider of the go-ahead score later, nabbing a steal and converting to sneak USC into a 38-37 lead with 12:25 on the clock. Bradley had the Trojans matched with their largest lead of the game, up 47-42 on a three with 7:10 to go, and Harberts finished off a feed from Vaioletama to get USC up 49-42 soon after.
A bucket from Ariya Crook had USC up 55-48, and two tosses from Vaioletama bumped the Trojans ahead by eight with 2:56 to go. Much of the rest of the game was spent on the free-throw lines at both ends, with USC benefiting from the bulk of those trips in building up a final 66-55 victory.
USC now takes a short break for Christmas before returning for a busy few days of action before the close of the year. The Trojans will host Long Beach State at 2 p.m. on Dec. 28 at Galen Center, and then USC will kick off Pac-12 play with a trip over to rival UCLA at 7 p.m. on Dec. 30 in Westwood.