In what was a very physical game last night at Beasley Coliseum, the Washington State Women held off the USC Trojans as time expired.
The Cougs (9-13, 5-6) managed to avoid a sweep at the ends of USC by winning tonight, and they pulled themselves into a tie with the Trojans (8-14, 5-6) for sixth in the Pac-12. It was a tense, back and forth affair in the second half that saw the Cougs hold off the Trojans 57-54. The Trojans managed to build a ten point lead throughout the early parts of the first half.
The Cougs didn't do themselves any favors as they either forced a shot early in the shot clock, or just tried to get a shot off in order to avoid a shot clock violation. Almost every time those shots missed, the Trojans would recover the boards (USC had 17 defensive rebounds at the half). That wasn't really the Cougs only problem though as the Trojans were 4-6 from behind the arc in the first half.
Somehow the Cougs managed to close the gap, and went into half time only down five. The score was 28-23 USC. Here are the two players who I felt made a big impact in the first half, one Coug and one Trojan;
- #00 Christina Marinacci was huge for the Trojans's offense in the first half as she was shooting 100% (3-3) from beyond the arc, and had a field goal percentage of 80% (4-5). In other words, she was the primary reason the Trojans built that ten point lead mid-way through the first half.
- #42 Hana Potter helped the Cougs cut the Trojan lead down to five before the half. With 1:32 left in the half she drove towards the bucket and made a tough layup while getting fouled. She promptly missed the free throw but gathered the offensive rebound and sank another lay up. She had cut the Trojans lead down to four while only burning three seconds of game clock.
The second half started off much better for the Cougs as USC struggled to find their shot and missed two of their first three wide open shots. Cassie Harberts put an end to that streak as she hit her first three pointer of the night. This is the point in the game where the Cougs began to apply a lot of defensive pressure, and it paid off initially when Sage Romberg got a steal and passed it to Katie Grad.
Grad drew a blocking foul (I still think it was a charge) attempting a layup; she hit one of her two free throws. Ariya Cook stepped up for the Trojans and prevented the Cougs from getting the lead as she hit four points in less then a minute. But the Trojans time in the lead was numbered as the Cougs match-up zone finally began to force the Trojans to make several contested shots, and missing the bulk of them.
Throughout the second half Coach Daugherty began to rotate Dheenshaw into the game more. And when she and Romberg where on the floor, the Cougs actually managed to coral quite a few rebounds. It not only allowed them to stay in the game, it allowed them to take a 41-39 lead with 12:21 left in the second half. Dheenshaw was the one who made the jumper that gave the Cougs that two point lead. USC would only end up regaining the lead once during the remainder of the game; it was a 47-45 lead with 5:48 left in the ball game.
The Cougs largest lead of the night was six points, and it came with 2:40 left in the ball game. The score was 53-47.
Christina Marinacci had gone quiet throughout the bulk of the second half, but she made a pair of free throws to cut the Cougar lead to four with 2:08 left in the ball game. Her free throws would spark the Trojans to go on a 6-2 run. With 50 seconds left in the ball game, the Cougs were up 55-54.
After Alofaituli missed an easy jumper, Lia Galderia came down with the defensive rebound. With two seconds left, Alofaituli made the questionable decision to foul Lia Galderia, it was the Trojans seventh foul of the half. Galderia hit both of her free throws to clinch the Cougar victory.
Here are the players who I think had a major impact on the second half;
- #3 Lia Galderia's stats may not look that impressive in this game, but she came up clutch when the Cougs needed her to. Of her ten points, six of them came in the second half; and none of them were bigger than the two free throws she hit at the end of the game to seal the Cougs fourth straight victory.
- #11 Cassie Harberts had one point in the first half. She finished the night with eight. Her lone three point attempt at the beginning of the second half ended a string of missed Trojan shots. That being said,her biggest contribution was from the charity stripe, as she hit a couple of clutch free throws late in the game to prevent the Cougs from running away with this game in the second half.