USC Women Make A Statement In Another Tight Loss To No. 9 ASU

    Feb. 26, 2016

    Box Score

    LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC women's basketball team put up another fierce fight against No. 9 Arizona State, taking the Sun Devils down to the wire again and yet falling short once again in a 50-45 defensive battle at Galen Center. The Trojans held the Sun Devils to just four points in the first quarter of play and continued to interrupt their progress throughout, forcing 23 ASU turnovers in the game. By the final buzzer, however, USC was just out of reach, taking a hard-fought loss that puts the Trojans at 18-11 overall and 6-11 in Pac-12 play with just one regular-season game left to go. No. 9 ASU improves to 25-4, 16-1 with the win at USC -- the Sun Devils' second tight win over the Trojans after a two-point win two weeks prior.

    Both teams proved stingy in the first half of action, which wound up locked up at 16-16 at the break. USC shot 28 percent from the floor through those first 20 minutes, and ASU was at 27 percent. Both would heat up in the second stanza, with ASU gripping a 33-32 lead entering the fourth. USC would trim a once-7-point deficit down to two with 2:10 remaining, but would get no further in its fight as ASU finished it out from the stripe. USC finished the game shooting 35 percent from the floor to ASU's 41 percent. ASU also led on the boards 38-26, but committed 23 turnovers while forcing 19 from the Trojans. USC was led in scoring by Kristen Simon with 15 points, joined in double figures by Sadie Edwards (11 points) and Temi Fagbenle (10). The Sun Devils got 11 points from Katie Hempen and 12 rebounds from Sophie Brunner to top ASU's charts on the night.

    It was a full-fledged chess match between the Trojans and the Sun Devils in the first 10 minutes of action. Scoring was sparse, but the intensity was cranked up to the top as the game went back and forth. Kristen Simon and Temi Fagbenle tag-teamed it for the Trojan offense out of the gates while the USC defense shut down the Sun Devils for the first six minutes of play. ASU wouldn't register a point until the 3:50 mark to cut USC's 6-0 lead down. ASU would strike again, to get within two, but USC had a buzzer-beater from Sadie Edwards lying in wait to tug the Trojans to an 8-4 advantage at the close of the first quarter. 

    The battle raged on in the second as the turnover count grew on both ends. ASU would equalize at 12-12 during a dry spell by the Trojans, only to have Fagbenle dump in a score next to get USC back on top, up 14-12 at 2:50. ASU would get back-to-back trips to the free-throw line next, however, working into its first lead of the game with a 16-14 advantage with 21 seconds left in the half. That would be just enough time for Simon to get back to work and pump in one more score before the buzzer to leave it at a 16-16 lockup at halftime. 

    More tug-of-war ensued in the third quarter with four more snarls. Sadie Edwards would take away an ASU lead when she landed the first 3-pointer of the game at 4:30 to sneak USC ahead 26-24, but the Sun Devils would fire back and equalize again. ASU's first three of the game came later, providing the largest Sun Devil lead of the game with a 31-28 advantage. USC kept pressing, and was within one by the buzzer, down 33-32 entering the fourth frame. 

    ASU was able to expand its lead to 39-32 as USC came up empty for the first three minutes of the fourth. Simon broke the silence with another bucket in the paint. The Trojans would trim the deficit to three as Jaco delivered and Edwards converted from the stripe to make it 41-38 with 5:37 to go. Two minutes later, Fagbenle was cutting it to a two-point margin after a pair of tosses to make it 43-41 ASU. With two minutes remaining, it was still a two-point game. Misses on both ends had the margin the same with 31 seconds left. USC would send the Sun Devils to the line in an attempt to get the ball back, and ASU would get the back end to go up 48-45 with 28 ticks to go. Edwards' ensuing 3-point try was off the mark, and USC was forced to foul once again, and the Trojans would be left out of reach and out of time with a 50-45 loss to the No. 9 Sun Devils. 

    USC now turns to host Arizona in the regular-season finale on Sunday (Feb. 28) at Galen Center. The Trojans and the Wildcats will square off at 2 p.m. after first honoring graduating seniors Brianna Barrett and Temi Fagbenle.

     
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    ASSOCIATE PRESS RECAP

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -
    Kristen Simon scored 15 points and Sadie Edwards added 11 points for the Trojans (18-11, 6-11 Pac-12), who lost for the fifth time in six games and remained in eighth place.

    The Sun Devils outrebounded the Trojans 38-26 and shot 54 percent in the second half to edge USC for the second time this season.

    With the score 47-45, Temi Fagbenle missed a contested layup that would have tied the score with 32 seconds left. Sabrina Haynes made one of two free throws with 28 seconds left to give Arizona State a 48-45 lead.

    After Sadie Edwards missed a 3-pointer, Brunner made the first of two free throws, with Kelsie Moos being fouled while rebounding the miss. Moos made 1 of 2 for the final margin.

    The Sun Devils twice built their lead to seven points in the fourth quarter, only to see the Trojans fight back.

    From 5:11 remaining in the second quarter through the end of the third, neither team had a lead of more than 3 points.

    TIP-INS:

    Arizona State; In the first meeting between these two teams, the Sun Devils beat the Trojans 69-68 in Tempe on Feb. 7, on Sophie Brunner's 3-point play with 1.4 seconds remaining. It was the fourth consecutive ASU-USC game that came down to the final possession or overtime.

    Southern California: The Trojans have yet to sweep a weekend series in conference play this season. The closest they came was on Feb. 5-7 when they beat Arizona 67-57 in Tucson only to lose to Arizona State 69-68 in Tempe.

    UP NEXT

    Arizona State: At UCLA on Sunday.

    Southern California: Hosts Arizona on Sunday