With an impending matchup against No. 4 Stanford on Thursday, the USC Women of Troy had hoped to carry a three-game winning streak into the clash in Palo Alto.
However, a 67-61 loss to Washington halted the Women of Troy as they fell to sixth place in a tight Pac-12 conference at the Galen Center on Sunday.
The Huskies (12-9, 4-6) held a one-point lead entering the final minute before capitalizing on five free throws and a second-chance layup while holding USC (12-10, 6-5) scoreless for 40 seconds.
USC senior guards Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath both drained 3-pointers in the final 16 seconds, but Washington sank another four free throws to guarantee the victory and snap USC’s two-game winning streak.
Guard Jazmine Davis led a trio of Huskies in double-digits with a game-high 26 points.
USC, on the other hand, had four Women of Troy in double-digits. Corral headed the team with a 19-point performance alongside a double-double by sophomore forward Cassie Harberts, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Despite the healthy balance of scoring, a stuttering late offense and porous defense allowed Washington to pull away with the victory.
“We just weren’t executing our defense,” Corral said. “I think we killed ourselves tonight.”
Midway through the second half, Corral led an 8-0 USC run with two 3-pointers, followed by an alley-oop pass to Gilbreath, who finished to give USC a nine-point advantage with 12:12 remaining.
But for the next ten minutes, USC scored only four points while the Huskies responded with 18, and the Women of Troy fell behind by five with two minutes remaining.
“We have to develop that killer instinct, and until we get that, we’ll have games like this where we’re in them, and then we lose them down the stretch,” USC coach Michael Cooper said.
In the beginning of the game, USC had jumped out to a 9-0 lead with jumpers by three different players, but Washington quickly whittled the lead with 18 first-half points by Davis.
After the Huskies briefly pulled ahead 21-20, sophomore forward Desireé Bradley scored eight consecutive points in less than two minutes to give USC a 28-24 lead.
In the first half, the Women of Troy shot 46 percent behind Harberts’ 10 points. Both sides drained 5-for-10 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes.
However, USC’s shooting percentage dipped to 24 percent in the second half, with Harberts adding only two more points to her total in the latter 20 minutes.
“We always come in a game with the mentality to get inside, and I didn’t get my team the presence that it needed,” Harberts said.
The team hopes to rebound in their next matchup against the formidable Stanford Cardinal, who have yet to lose a conference game.
“Stanford’s not going to come in and play lightly,” Corral said. “Everybody on this team has to show up, and against Stanford we just have to be ready.”
USC will face off against the Cardinal in Palo Alto at 6 p.m. on Thursday.