Women of Troy capture another comeback victory

With yet another come-from-behind victory, the Women of Troy women’s basketball team is off to their best conference start in five seasons.

USC (12-6, 6-1) beat Washington State on the road 61-51 despite trailing at halftime for the fifth straight game. The Women of Troy have won four of those five games.

Double threat · Senior guard/forward Aarika Hughes filled up the stat sheet on Saturday, contributing eight points and nine rebounds. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

The recent spate of success USC has enjoyed notwithstanding, senior guard/forward Aarika Hughes said the team has to be ready to play hard from the opening tip.

“I think it’s just getting our heads in the game and focusing from the get-go,” Hughes said. “We’ve proven we can come back in games but it’d be nice if we didn’t wait until the second half to turn it on.”

The Women of Troy jumped out to an early six-point lead and looked like they would cruise to victory, but an inability to keep Washington State (5-13, 0-7) off the offensive glass allowed the Cougars to get back into the game. Washington State held a five-point advantage going into halftime.

“It’s tough to win on the road no matter where you go, but at the same time we need to come out and play better defense and box out better,” sophomore guard Ashley Corral told the USC All-Access.

Hughes and sophomore guard Briana Gilbreath helped USC pull out the victory despite a lackluster shooting performance by Corral, who missed all five of her shot attempts in the first half. Hughes finished with eight points and nine rebounds while Gilbreath scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first half.

Despite Gilbreath’s hot start, the Women of Troy still found themselves trailing early as the Cougars grabbed one offensive rebound after another. Washington State collected most of its 21 offensive rebounds in the first half. At halftime, Hughes said USC coach Michael Cooper told his team to go out and play.

“Him and [assistant] coach Monier really couldn’t tell us anything as far as X’s and O’s,” Hughes said. “They just told us to go out there, play hard and get it done whichever way we could.”

Part of getting it done included Corral breaking out of her shooting slump. Corral scored all 10 of her points after intermission and sealed the win for USC in the final minute by banking in a jumper as the shot clock expired.

Freshman forward Christina Marinacci also helped USC escape Pullman, Wash. with a win. Marinacci scored six points and gave the Women of Troy a boost off the bench.

“She definitely comes in off the bench and gives us a spark of energy,” Hughes said. “Her energy alone carries us when we get into those lulls.”

Those lulls in energy have been a recent issue for the Women of Troy. USC has trailed in all five of its conference victories this season, and the players are all too aware that they cannot rely on making a comeback every game.

“It’s not the greatest way to win,” Hughes said. “We need to make sure that we don’t always get behind early.”

USC kept its hold on second place in the conference with the victory. The Women of Troy take on Oregon and Oregon State this week at the Galen Center.