The USC women’s basketball team used a balanced scoring effort to take down Long Beach State 82-60 on Sunday at the Galen Center.
Nine 3-pointers in the second half didn’t hurt, either.
The Women of Troy bullied an undersized 49ers team down low in the first half, then got hot from outside to secure their second win of the season. Four players scored in double figures for USC, led by freshman forward Cassie Harberts and senior guard Jacki Gemelos with 14 points apiece. Junior guard Ashley Corral (13) and sophomore forward Christina Marinacci (11) rounded out the scoring for the Women of Troy.
“That’s one of the things that we’re stressing in our offense,” USC coach Michael Cooper said. “When you share the basketball everyone’s having fun and working hard for one another. This was a good game for us to bounce back from Duke.”
As a team, the Women of Troy finished with a season-high 20 assists.
USC didn’t play its best basketball in the first half but staked a 16-point halftime lead by dominating its own backboard. The Women of Troy grabbed 12 of the 23 shots they missed in the half and converted those offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points.
“We started a big lineup because we wanted to rebound well,” Cooper said. “We got beat up pretty bad at Duke but we learned our lesson and understand we have to do our work when the ball is in the air.”
The Women of Troy jumped out to an 8-0 lead minutes into the game before turnovers and missed layups allowed Long Beach State to crawl back in to the game. After 49ers guard Jazmyne Porter banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key, the score stood at 10-9. From there, USC closed the half on a 26-11 run to take a 36-20 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, the Women of Troy did most of their damage from the outside. USC knocked down seven of its first nine 3-pointers in the second half and stretched the lead to as many as 32 points before a late run by Long Beach State.
“Sometimes you get a little complacent when you have a big lead,” Cooper said. “We have to understand that you can’t afford to do that.”
Gemelos started the game slowly but knocked down 5-of-6 shots after the break to pace her team in scoring.
“I came out in the second half with the mentality to keep shooting the ball,” Gemelos said.
Her biggest contributions came when she wasn’t shooting the ball. Gemelos handed out six assists in the game, several of the spectacular variety. In the first half, she found junior guard Briana Gilbreath under the basket with a no-look pass. Later in the game Gemelos threaded an up-and-under pass through traffic to a streaking Harberts.
It’s really nice playing with her because I like to cut backdoor,” Harberts said. “Ashley and Jacki are both great passers.”
Harberts also chipped in eight rebounds — five offensive — for USC.
One of the only negatives for the Women of Troy was the play of 49ers freshman guard Brandi Henton, who scored 23 of her 30 points after halftime. Still, Cooper didn’t seem overly concerned with his team’s defensive play.
“She got loose a lot but we did a good job overall,” he said. “She scored 30 but nobody else got more than eight. One player is not going to beat us by scoring 40 or 50.”
Next up for the Women of Troy is a home date Tuesday against Georgia.
“It’s going to be similar to the Duke game,” Gemelos said. “Big, strong girls that we’re going to need to be tough against.”