USC Women Shake Off UC Irvine To Make It A Perfect 12-0 Nonconference Performance|
Dec. 28, 2015
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — The USC women’s basketball team will officially carry a perfect 12-0 record into the start of Pac-12 play after digging down for a ferocious second-half rally to beat visiting UC Irvine 75-56. The Trojans had been off-balance in the first half and had to fight through seven lead changes before stepping into the lead for good midway through the third quarter. Again, it was the hot hand of Courtney Jaco that helped stabilize the Trojans, while Kristen Simon came through in the clutch with a double-double to keep USC moving out ahead of the Anteaters. The victory gives USC a 12-0 overall record, marking the best season start for the Women of Troy since a 13-0 opening in 1982-83, when current head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke was a sophomore at USC. The best-ever start was set the season prior, in 1981-82 with an 18-0 record out of the gates that year.
In this nonconference finale against UC Irvine, USC was scoring at just a 38 percent clip in the first half of play to trail the Anteaters' 42 percent but still managed to hold a slim one-point lead at the break. The Trojans stalled out in the first quarter while sending the Anteaters to the free-throw line, but USC was eventually able to right the ship. After seven lead changes, USC finally took control. The Trojans upped its offensive output to 48 percent in the second half while UC Irvine slumped to 39 percent. USC’s seven 3-pointers — four from Jaco and three from Aliyah Mazyck — proved a potent spark, and the Trojans also won out on the boards to the tune of a 36-31 rebounding advantage. USC would finish out the game shooting 43 percent from the floor, and UCI was at 40 percent.
By the final buzzer, USC had long erased a once-three-point deficit to the Anteaters. What’s more, four Trojans wrapped up with double-digit scoring, led by Jaco’s career-high 21 points and 19 points from Simon, who added a career-best 13 rebounds to her stat sheet. Mazyck added 12 points to the Trojan cause, while Temi Fagbenle pumped in 11 points and nabbed four steals. Mazyck and Brianna Barrett also served up five assists apiece for USC. The Anteaters had two players finish in double figures, with Raelyn Cheung-Sutton scoring 11 and Irene Chavez hitting 10.
Fagbenle and Simon were the only Trojans to score in the first quarter, and the lack of depth and an ill-timed scoring slump saw the Anteaters take advantage. UC Irvine sneaked into the lead in the final minute of the first frame and held a 16-13 lead by the buzzer. The Trojans were able to make it more of group effort in the second quarter as Courtney Jaco and Aliyah Mazyck got in on the scoring. As she is prone to do, Jaco heated up from the arc and drained two key 3-pointers to give USC a lift. With two threes in two minutes, Jaco kept alive her streak of nailing at least one 3-pointer. Now with a three in 13 straight games, Jaco went on to add a key layup to her tally, fed by Brianna Barrett for a runner that got USC ahead 28-23 midway through the second. It was an important boost, as UCI responded with a 6-0 scoring run to huge back into the lead. Simon provided the last word of the half with a bucket in the final minute to creep the Trojans into a 30-29 advantage at the break. That score also gave Simon double digits for the 10th game this season, but she and the Women of Troy still had 20 minutes of work ahead of them.
The tug-of-war continued in the third as the lead traded hands twice more. After Lloyd brought USC back level with the Anteaters with a free throw, Jaco delivered seven straight points — another 3-pointer and then back-to-back fast break finishes — to nudge USC to its biggest lead, up 42-35 with 4:10 on the clock in the third.That would help the Trojans all but ensure that that last lead change — the seventh of the game on Jaco’s three at 5:05 — would be the last. USC would work out to a double-digit lead thanks in part to a banked 3-pointer from Mazyck before the buzzer. USC would take a 55-44 lead into the fourth quarter of play. Not even three minutes into the fourth, USC’s advantage would balloon to 63-46 as four Trojans combined forces for an 8-0 scoring surge. As time ticked down, Simon would work her way into a double-double, and Sadie Edwards and Marguerite Effa got in the scoring column as the seventh and eighth Trojans to score in the game. Three final free throws from Jaco wrapped up a career-high 21 points for the junior and put the finishing touches on the 75-56 final victory for the Trojans’ 12th straight win of the season.
The Women of Troy now turn to kick off Pac-12 play with a crosstown rivalry clash against UCLA. USC pays a visit to the Bruins for the conference opener at 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 30) at Pauley Pavilion.
USC 75, UC IRVINE 56
UC Irvine..................... 16 13 15 12 - 56
3-point goals--UC Irvine 2-11 (Santana, Paulina 1-1; Chavez, Irene 1-4; Glassow, Brittany 0-1; Piper, Mckenzie 0-2; Dee, Jenny 0-3), USC 7-20 (Jaco, Courtney 4-6; Mazyck, Aliyah 3-8; Lloyd, Alexis 0-2; Edwards, Sadie 0-4). Fouled out--UC Irvine-Jackson, Tayla, USC-None. Rebounds--UC Irvine 31 (Glassow, Brittany 6), USC 36 (Simon, Kristen 13). Assists--UC Irvine 13 (Chavez, Irene 7), USC 20 (Mazyck, Aliyah 5; Barrett, Brianna 5). Total fouls--UC Irvine 19, USC 20. Technical fouls--UC Irvine-None, USC-Mazyck, Aliyah. Att-406