USC Women Lock In For 77-73 Win Over WSU In Pac-12 Tourney|
March 3, 2016
SEATTLE, WASH. -- The 19th lead change of the game was the one that mattered most. The USC women's basketball team fought through 13 ties and took its crucial late lead with 1:05 on the clock. USC's gutsy effort won the day, as the Trojans held strong and received a heroic effort from Temi Fagbenle in the last minute in particular, hitting clutch free throws and two huge defensive stops in the final 13 seconds to shut down Washington State and secure a 77-73 victory for the Trojans in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. No. 8 seeded USC improves to 19-12 overall and now moves into the quarterfinals tomorrow (March 4) against top-seeded Oregon State at 6 p.m. at KeyArena in Seattle.
USC was shooting 36 percent from the floor in the first half as the teams fought through 12 lead changes in the first 20 minutes. WSU heated up to move ahead in the final minute of the half, finishing off the first 20 shooting 45 percent from the floor. In the second half, the Trojans turned up the heat, firing off a 60-percent effort from the floor in the last 20 minutes to finish out the game at 47 percent. WSU stayed productive as well, however, shooting 52 percent to finish up at 48 percent. The key stat line down the stretch came on the boards and from the free-throw line. USC topped out at 43 rebounds to just 26 by the Cougars -- fueled by a career-high 17 rebounds from Temi Fagbenle. WSU also struggled from the stripe, missing three times in the final seconds and finishing up the game 11-of-18 from the free-throw line in the game. USC hit 18-of-22 from the free-throw line.
USC had four Trojans finish in double digits in the game led by a team-high 19 points from Courtney Jaco -- who now holds the third most single-season 3-pointer in USC history with 71 to her name after nailing five bombs tonight. Temi Fagbenle, meanwhile, served up her second block of the game in the waning moments to snuff a dangerous WSU opportunity. She'd finish out the game with her 10th double-double of the season on 18 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Sadie Edwards also hit double figures thanks in part of a 5-of-5 effort from the free-throw line and wound up with 17 points for the Trojan cause. Kristen Simon also worked into double figures with 10 points, also contributing a crucial visit to the line with 22 seconds left to help boost the Trojans along to the win. WSU got a game-high 24 points from Borislava Hristova, 12 points from Taylor Edmondson and 10 from Louise Brown.
It was a fast and furious first frame as USC and WSU kept reeling each other in. The lead traded hands seven times in the battle, with Sadie Edwards having the last word with her three-point play to close the first with the Trojans up 20-19 on the Cougars. The back-and-forth trend would continue in the next stretch. Courtney Jaco gave her Trojans a key lift to a 27-25 lead with her first 3-pointer of the night, and Temi Fagbenle added to her tally with a score that built a 29-25 advantage with 2:40 to go in the half. The Cougars would generate some momentum in the final minute, however. WSU followed USC misfires with back-to-back scores and then buried a 3-pointer just moments before the buzzer to hold a 34-31 lead on the Trojans at the break.
USC would regroup in the third and find a big spark in the steady hand of Jaco. She'd nail three 3-pointers in the third to take her season tally out to 70 on the year and help boost the Trojans back into the lead. A 9-1 USC rally pushed the Trojans on top, and after WSU fought back to tie it a 44-44 with 5:05 on the clock, Jaco drilled two clutch threes to build back the USC advantage. By the final buzzer, USC was gripping a 56-52 lead on the way into the fourth frame. WSU managed a 6-0 run to sneak back into the lead in the fourth before Jaco stepped in and snapped the run at 6:20. Cue a wild stretch of basketball. With three minutes to go, USC was staring at a 68-64 deficit. Aliyah Mazyck hit a single free throw next and Jaco drilled her fourth 3-pointer to lock it up 68-68 at 2:19. A minute later, it was even again at 70-70, giving USC a real gut check to get through. Sadie Edwards floated in the go-ahead bucket to make it 72-70 with 1:05 to go. The rest of the game played out from the free-throw line, with Fagbenle's defense interrupting the Cougars when it mattered most and her steady hand anchoring the Trojans to victory from the stripe as USC wrapped up an intense 77-73 win over the Cougars to notch a 19th win and move on to the Pac-12 quarterfinals tomorrow.