USC Women Blast Bearkats 88-67 For Fourth Straight Win

    Freshman McKenzie Calvert led the charge with 19 points tonight.
    Nov. 28, 2014

    Box Score

    DALLAS, TEXAS -- The USC women's basketball team charged up for another big win, notching the Trojans' fourth straight victory with an 88-67 decision over Sam Houston State in the opening game of the SMU Thanksgiving Classic tonight at Moody Coliseum in Dallas. Ten Women of Troy inked their names in the scoring column in the win, led by McKenzie Calvert's game-high 19 points. USC's four-game win streak bumps the Trojans to 4-1 overall and sends them to tomorrow's championship game at 7 p.m. CT.

    The Bearkats kept a leash on the Trojans for the first nine minutes of the game, holding USC within three until the Women of Troy busted loose. That three-point edge would unfurl into as much as an 18-point advantage before USC closed the books on the first half holding a 44-28 lead. Seven different Women of Troy had a hand in building that first-half lead, with senior Kiki Alofaituli and freshman McKenzie Calvert in the scoring column already with double figures as USC shot 45 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. Sam Houston State was slightly warmer, at 46 percent to that point, but USC was creating far more opportunities for itself on the offensive end.

    USC heated up in the second half and finished out the game shooting 49 percent -- barely under 50 percent for the first time in the past four games -- but spread the ball around in finishing with three players in double figures and two just off the mark. Calvert set a new career high for herself with a 19-point outing, while Alofaituli wrapped with 14 points alongside Courtney Jaco, who was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc and 5-of-5 overall tonight. Alexyz Vaioletama was just a point away from a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds, and Brianna Barrett also finished up with nine. Sam Houston State shot 43 percent in the game, led by Shernise Robertson's 17 points and getting four other players in double digits in the losing effort. USC won out on the boards 42-35 and nabbed 18 steals in the win.



    USC's first points came in threes, first on a 3-pointer landed by Alexyz Vaioletama to start things off and then with three-point plays converted by Brianna Barrett and McKenzie Calvert as the Trojans crafted a 9-4 lead in the first three minutes of play. The Bearkats would edge to within three with 11:50 on the clock, only to see the Trojans break away and manufacture a double-digit lead in the next four minutes. That advantage ballooned quickly. An 11-0 Trojan scoring run -- capped by back-to-back fast break buckets from Calvert -- carried USC to a 35-18 lead with 6:30 to go in the half. That bumped the freshman into the books as the first Trojan in double digits. USC's lead grew to 18 on a 3-pointer from Kaneisha Horn, making it 40-22 Trojans with 3:20 to go. Sam Houston State would make a 6-0 run to answer that, but Kiki Alofaituli nailed a jumper for her 10th points of the game to stop the run entering the last minute of the half. With a free throw and another bucket from Horn before the break, USC would take a 45-28 lead into the locker room.

    The second half was a similar story, with the teams largely staying in stride. That is, until Courtney Jaco landed her third 3-pointer of the half, Barrett delivered on a breakaway and Amy Okonkwo joined the scoring party, and all of a sudden the Trojans were gripping a 69-43 lead at the 10-minute mark. A string of USC turnovers saw the Bearkats get their deficit down to 20, at 74-54 Trojans with 4:30 left to play. USC would dash any Bearkat hopes of getting any closer, though, as the Trojans expanded on their lead and wrapped the game with an 88-67 victory.

    USC will now face either host SMU or Florida A&M in tomorrow's 7 p.m. CT championship game at the SMU Thanksgiving Classic at Moody Coliseum in Dallas.