USC Women Unable to Leap Ahead of Arizona, Fall 63-56 At Galen Center|
Feb. 28, 2016
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — The USC women’s basketball team finishes up the regular season with an 18-11 overall record after falling 63-56 to visiting Arizona today at Galen Center. The Trojans overcame a 16-point halftime deficit and closed the gap down to two points in the final five minutes but could not find a finishing touch to their regular-season finale. USC closes conference play with a 6-12 record to stand in eighth place.
USC was off-kilter in the first half of action, allowing Arizona to shoot 52 percent from the floor while the Trojans were outrebounded 21-11. USC’s 35-percent shooting effort did not help the Trojans to make up ground on the Wildcats by halftime, as USC trailed Arizona 38-22 at the break. The Trojans would heat up to 46 percent shooting and outscored the Wildcats 34-25 in the second half while Arizona cooled down to 35 percent, but the Wildcats got the buckets they needed down the stretch to fend off their host. USC would finish out the game shooting 40 percent to Arizona’s 44 percent, and the Wildcats also won out on the boards 38-25.
In a pregame Senior Day ceremony, USC honored its two departing players, Brianna Barrett and Temi Fagbenle. Barrett was unable to compete in USC’s final regular-season game, but her jersey was still in action as junior Courtney Jaco donned the No. 23 jersey in honor of Barrett. Fagbenle fought through foul trouble to serve up a team-high 12 points for the Trojans, with Jaco matching that tally while nailing three 3-pointers for the Trojan cause. That effort from beyond the arc tugged Jaco to now rank No. 5 all-time in career 3-pointers, holding 139 to her name to date. USC’s double-digit crew today also included freshman Aliyah Mazyck, who finished up with 10 points. Arizona also had three players hit double digits. LaBrittney Jones led all with 18 points, while Malena Washington and Keyahndra Cannon had 10 points apiece for the Wildcats.
In the first frame, the Trojans had to craft a response to a 7-0 scoring surge that had USC in a 12-6 hole. Aliyah Mazyck was the spark, nailing a three and then nabbing a steal and providing the finish to tug the Trojans back in reach. The lead would trade hands back and forth to open the second quarter until the Wildcats manufactured a 12-0 run to put USC behind 26-16 with 5:30 on the clock. As USC failed to score from the floor for over six minutes, Arizona worked farther ahead in nailing another 3-pointer to go up 29-16. Temi Fagbenle dumped in a bucket for USC to break the silence for the Trojans and make it 29-18, but USC still had plenty of work ahead. Sadie Edwards tallied her first points of the day, and Fagbenle followed, but Arizona fired right back with a quick score to make it 33-22 Wildcats with 2:00 left in the half. Fagbenle would get tagged with her third foul next, and Arizona made another push with two more scores and earned a trip to the stripe with under a second left to to hold a 38-22 lead at the break.
Arizona’s scoring consistency stayed on pace in the third to counter a hotter hand held by the Trojans. Sadie Edwards delivered a three to follow a bucket from Alexis Lloyd to get the deficit down to 10, but Arizona fired off back-to-back scores to move back ahead again, up 46-32 at 5:40. Kristen Simon would pick up her fourth foul of the game a couple minutes later. Courtney Jaco would bury her first 3-pointer of the game with 30 seconds left in the quarter, and USC would wrap the frame trailing the Wildcats 53-41.
Jaco came up clutch again in following a Simon bucket with a three that finally tugged the Trojans to within single digits. Jaco’s three also moved the junior up to rank No. 5 all-time in career 3-pointers made. But Jaco was not done. She’d bury another long bomb next and finish off the free throw on her trip to the stripe, pulling USC within five, down 55-50 with 6:06 to go. After a USC defensive stop, Alexis Lloyd converted a three-point play, and USC was back in business, down 55-53 with under five minutes remaining. Arizona would snap USC’s 12-0 scoring surge with a baseline jumper at 3:50, giving USC four points of ground to now make up. The referee’s whistle would blow a fifth time against Fagbenle with 3:34 to go, unceremoniously sending the senior to the bench for the remainder of the game. A score from Khaedin Taito had USC still within four with 2:15 to go, down 59-55, and USC would get back on the attack with 1:34 on the clock after a defensive stand against the Wildcats. After Mazyck hit the front end of her free throw trip, she’d gather her own rebound to give USC another chance. USC’s next 3-point try was off the mark, leaving USC behind 59-56 in the final minute. Arizona would step up to the stripe with 18 seconds left and sank both, leaving USC with a 61-56 deficit to dig into. The open shot wasn’t there for the Trojans, and USC would end up with a 63-56 loss after one more set of Wildcat free throws.
USC now will take the No. 8 seed into the 2016 Pac-12 Tournament next week, opening up against No. 9 seeded Washington State at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (March 3) at KeyArena in Seattle.