The USC women’s basketball team traveled up the coast to Washington over the weekend, hoping to sweep both Washington State and Washington this season. Ultimately, the Women of Troy came up short in both contests, losing a tight game to the Cougars 57-54 on Friday and falling 61-58 to the Huskies on Sunday.
Against Washington (17-6, 9-3 Pac-12), junior forward Cassie Harberts bounced back from her first single-digit scoring game of the season, leading the Women of Troy (8-15, 5-7 Pac-12) with 16 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Ariya Crook added 15 points, six rebounds and six assists, while junior forward Desiree Bradley scored 11 points.
Point guard Jazmine Davis led Washington with 24 points, while forward Talia Walton added 13.
The Huskies jumped out to an 11-4 lead early against USC, but the Women of Troy scored eight straight points to take the lead behind two 3-pointers from Crook and a jumper by sophomore guard Kiki Alofaituli. The Huskies would retake the lead on a pair of free throws from Davis and hold it throughout the course of the half.
Washington led 38-28 at the half on 39 percent shooting. Harberts scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in the first half, while Crook added 10 points for the Women of Troy.
Davis scored 13 of the Huskies’ first 23 points to lead the charge but was held scoreless throughout the remainder of the half. Walton added eight points and four rebounds for Washington.
The Women of Troy came back strong to start the second half, going on a 14-7 run to cut the Huskies’ lead to three. The Huskies would maintain their advantage until a 3-pointer from Bradley gave the Women of Troy a 54-53 lead with 5:50 left. The game went back and forth until a jumper from Davis gave the Huskies the lead for good. USC would finish with 39 percent shooting compared to Washington’s 36 percent, and both teams were even with 33 rebounds apiece.
“We come out in the second half, and they play harder and smarter than us,” Harberts said. “We haven’t been down by 10 at the half that often, so we knew we had to step it up.”
USC was in control for the majority of the game against Washington State (9-14, 5-6 Pac-12), leading by as many as 10 points in the first half, but once again failed to play two halves of complete basketball. The Cougars closed the gap in the second half, took a late a late lead and, ultimately, held off the Women of Troy.
A good sign for USC was the return of senior forward Christina Marinacci, who had a game-high 17 points, shooting a perfect three-for-three from 3-point range. Crook would add 15 points.
The Cougars had a much more balanced scoring attack with 10 different players scoring in the game, led by 11 and 10 points from guards Dawnyelle Awa and Lia Galdeira, respectively. The team heated up in the second half, shooting 52 percent after shooting only 32 percent in the first half. In contrast, USC cooled down, shooting a dismal 27 percent in the second half to finish at 32 percent for the game.
The Women of Troy held a 28-23 advantage at halftime, but the Cougars would eventually tie the game at 31-31 at the 17-minute mark and take their first lead of the game, 41-39, breaking the fifth tie of the game. The two teams were tied again at 45 with 8:30 to go before the Cougars went off for a 8-0 run to take the lead, which they would never give back.
USC returns to the Galen Center for a tough three-game homestand as it looks to end a four-game losing streak. The Women of Troy will face No. 4 Stanford (22-2, 11-1 Pac-12) on Friday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. and No. 6 California (21-2, 10-1 Pac-12) on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. The Women of Troy follow that up against No. 17 UCLA (19-4, 10-2 Pac-12) on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m.