Women of Troy can’t stop late CU rally

The scene was all too familiar for the Women of Troy.

Four days after falling to Oregon State in a game that featured 25 lead changes and culminated in a narrow Beavers win in overtime, USC (10-8, 5-3) found itself in yet another tight basketball game that nearly went into overtime.

Instead, Colorado (15-4, 4-4) pieced together a final 5-2 push in the last minute to give the Buffaloes a 69-67 win at home. The loss leaves the Women of Troy in a two-game skid and keeps them at third in the Pac-12 standings.

Colorado guard Chucky Jeffery sank two free throws with four seconds remaining to give the Buffaloes the final lead. USC had a chance to answer, but turned over the ball to seal its fate.

With 48 seconds remaining and the game tied at 65 apiece, USC senior guard Briana Gilbreath found sophomore forward Cassie Harberts open for a layup to give the Women of Troy their last bucket and lead of the game.

Colorado forward Jen Reese responded with a jumper following a timeout by the Buffaloes. Harberts then turned it over, leading to Jeffery’s game-winning free throws.

Guard Brittany Wilson led the Buffaloes with 21 points alongside Jeffery’s 19. In the game, Colorado shot 44.1 percent from the field compared to USC’s 49.1 percent but held an eight free throw advantage over the Women of Troy.

USC had a balanced offensive attack led by junior forward Christina Marinacci with 17 and Gilbreath with 15, but several runs by the Buffaloes in the latter 20 minutes dispelled USC’s efforts.

Marinacci started off the second half with four consecutive baskets, stretching the Women of Troy’s lead to eight, before forcing Colorado to call a timeout.

She finally missed on her fifth attempt of the half, but not before scoring USC’s first 10 points after halftime. To counter her burst, the Buffaloes chained an 8-3 run to pull the game within a point.

After USC senior guard Ashley Corral assisted another bucket by Marinacci and a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Desireé Bradley to stretch the lead to six, Colorado went on a 7-0 run to pull ahead by one.

In the remaining 10 minutes, the teams traded leads eight times and tied twice before Colorado pulled away for the victory.

USC began the game shooting 55.6 percent in the first half, led by Gilbreath with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in the first 20 minutes. She cooled off in the second half, only scoring again on a free throw to finish with 15.

The last time the two sides met, USC defeated Colorado 87-70 in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals last March. Leading the Women of Troy was Corral, who made seven of her eight 3-pointers for a career-high 32 points.

This game, the Buffaloes shut her down, holding Corral to 2-for-8 shooting for seven points.

The Women of Troy will wrap up their two-game road trip and will try to end their skid on Saturday at 2 p.m. against the Utah Utes (9-10, 2-6), who hold the worst conference record in the Pac-12.