USC prepares to face Toledo for WNIT title

Three weeks ago, the USC women’s basketball team watched its NCAA tournament hopes evaporate in the midst of  an Arizona barrage of three-pointers.

The loss relegated the Women of Troy (24-12) to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, a disappointing end to a season that started with so much promise.

In the zone · Junior guard Ashley Corral has played a pivotal role in the Women of Troy’s postseason run, averaging 18.2 points and shooting 73 percent from three-point range. - Kelvin Kuo | Daily Trojan

But five games later, a resurgent USC squad stands poised to capture the program’s first WNIT title. All that stands in its way is a trip to Toledo.

Stifling defense has been USC’s calling card during its tournament run. The Women of Troy have held three of their five opponents to less than 35 percent shooting. In its last two games, USC has broken open close games by holding its opponents scoreless for long stretches.

That kind of defensive effort will need to continue against Toledo (28-8), which boasts a pair of talented scorers in guard Naama Shafir and forward Melissa Goodall. Both players have averaged more than 13 points per game for the Rockets, who enter the championship game averaging more than 66 points per game.

USC has held opponents to 56 points per outing so far in the WNIT tournament.

As strong as USC has been on defense, its offense has been just as potent. For the tournament, the Women of Troy are shooting 45 percent from the field and a blistering 48 percent from three-point range.

Junior guard Ashley Corral leads the team in tournament scoring with 18.2 points per game, despite coming off the bench. Corral is shooting nearly 75 percent from behind the arc and needs four three-pointers against Toledo to set a tournament record.

Tipoff is scheduled for noon Saturday in Toledo.

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