USC to play on in WNIT

A dominant second half propelled the USC women’s basketball team to a 62-50 victory over BYU on Wednesday and into the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Leading the way · Junior guard Briana Gilbreath, pictured here against UCLA, scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, leading USC to a 62-50 victory over the Cougars in Provo, Utah. The Women of Troy now advance to the Elite Eight of the WNIT for the first time in the program’s history. - Kelvin Kuo | Daily Trojan

Trailing at the break, the Women of Troy (22-12) opened the second half on fire, scoring on five of their first six possessions to turn a six-point deficit into a 36-31 lead.

“At halftime we talked about how this could be our last game,” said senior center Kari LaPlante.  “In the second half we sucked it up and pushed through [our fatigue]. We were able to catch our wind and that’s what made the difference.”

Junior guard Ashley Corral was instrumental during the run, scoring seven of USC’s first 11 points opening the second half.

For the third straight game, Corral gave USC a much-needed scoring punch off the bench, finishing with 10 points and a pair of three-pointers.

The Women of Troy outscored BYU 37-19 in the second half and held the Cougars to 23 percent shooting.

USC shot 48 percent after the break, attacking the basket and getting easy scoring opportunities.

“We didn’t follow the game plan in the first half,” LaPlante said. “In the second half we actually did what we were supposed to do.”

That sharp shooting was not present for the Women of Troy early in a first half marked by a flurry of missed shots and turnovers.

USC went through a pair of long scoring droughts in the first half, going without a basket for nearly five minutes during one stretch and getting outscored 10-0 to close the half.

USC held a 25-21 lead with three minutes left in the first half before turnovers brought its momentum to a sudden halt.

The Women of Troy only attempted one more shot before halftime, turning the ball over on four of their final five possessions.

BYU seemed to capitalize on every mistake USC made during this time, scoring the final 10 points of the half to take a 31-25 lead into the break.

At the break, BYU forward Mindy Bonham led all scorers with 15 points, although USC held  the senior guard to just six points in the second half.

“We really are a second-half team,” said freshman forward Cassie Harberts. “In the first half we were a step slow everywhere and we weren’t doing our coverages on defense.”

Junior guard Briana Gilbreath led USC in the first half with eight points and five rebounds.

Sophomore forward Christina Marinacci missed all five of her field goal attempts, but collected seven rebounds for the Women of Troy.

Winning the rebounding battle has been a barometer for USC’s success all season, and the team was able to capitalize yet again on Wednesday.

The Women of Troy grabbed 43 rebounds and held BYU — even with its 6-foot-7 center in Jennifer Hamson — to just 34.

BYU’s Kristen Riley finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while Riley Hall also scored 10 points in the losing effort.

For USC, Marinacci led the team with 10 rebounds, and also chipped in eight points of her own.

Gilbreath led the Women of Troy with 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Senior guard Jacki Gemelos chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds, while Harberts contributed 11 points and five rebounds.

“It’s nice that we can continue our season,” Harberts said. “With every game and practice, we’re getting better.”

USC is now set to face either Wyoming or Colorado in the WNIT Quarterfinals on Sunday.

1 reply
  1. trojanelli
    trojanelli says:

    great job Women of Troy!! Keep up the hard work. Coach Cooper is working his Magic and he Trojanettes….are great athletes and second half sensations. Do Not get a Big Head. We cam win the WNIT. We got your back, now get us back to the Final Four.

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