USC heading to Final Four of the WNIT

The USC women’s basketball team is headed to the Final Four of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

Junior guard Ashley Corral scored a career-high 32 points off the bench for the Women of Troy (23-12) as they scored a season-high 53 points in the second half en route to an 87-70 victory over Colorado on Sunday.

Offensive spark · Junior guard Ashley Corral, pictured here against Arizona State, came off the bench to pour in a career-high 32 points in leading USC to an 87-70 victory over Colorado. - Kelvin Kuo | Daily Trojan

Corral’s 32 points continued her recent scoring binge. She has scored 75 points in USC’s four WNIT wins and has made 17-of-22 three-point attempts.

“[Corral] provides such a spark to our offense, especially when we’re down,” said freshman forward Cassie Harberts. “She’s been hitting threes left and right.”

USC trailed for most of the first half, but never let the Buffaloes extend their lead to more than five points.

At halftime, Colorado led 36-34, and USC coach Michael Cooper challenged his team to come out and play harder in the second half.

“He told us, ‘Right now, [Colorado] is playing harder than you are, they have more energy, and they seem like they want this more than you do,’” Corral said. “We knew that wasn’t true.”

The start of the second half didn’t immediately go as USC wished, as Colorado senior forward Brittany Spears made a three-pointer to give the Buffs their biggest lead of the game.

But then the Women of Troy made their move. USC went on a 10-1 scoring run that put it ahead for good.

“We had to come out and get stops, and hit our jumpers,” Corral said.

After two made free throws by Colorado, USC went on yet another scoring binge, this time a 16-4 streak that put the Women of Troy up 60-46.

Colorado would close the deficit to 69-62 with 3:47 left, after Spears was fouled on a three-point attempt, then made all three free throws to cap a 7-0 run for the Buffs.

But Corral made one of her seven three-pointers on USC’s next possession, extending the lead to double digits and putting the game out of reach.

The Women of Troy made four more three-pointers than the Buffaloes, despite having only half as many attempts from beyond the arc.

USC made 76.9 percent of its three-point attempts, while Colorado only made six of its 26 three-point shots for a 23.1 percent success rate.

Just as they outscored their opponents from the perimeter, the Women of Troy also dominated down low.

Even though Spears scored 36 points for Colorado, most of her points were from either beyond the arc or at the free-throw line. USC also outrebounded Colorado 46-26.

“It’s always a point of ours to outrebound [our opponents],” Harberts said. “Even though Spears had 36 [points], [Corral] neutralized her, so it was fine.”

Corral was one of four USC players with double-digit scoring — junior guard Jacki Gemelos had 20 points, while Harberts and senior center Kari LaPlante both chipped in 10.

In the Final Four of the WNIT for the first time, USC will play at Illinois State (24-10) Wednesday at 5 p.m.

3 replies
  1. Steve B.
    Steve B. says:

    It is a real shame that USC did not bid to hold the game here at the Galen Ctr., and worse no broadcast of the game either TV or radio for the fans and supporters of the team to my knowledge.

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