The Women of Troy used a fast start to push past UCLA on Sunday. After falling behind 2-0 to start the game, USC went on a 14-3 run to take a lead that it would not relinquish, winning with a final score of 66-54.
Sophomore forward Cassie Harberts had a stand-out game, scoring 14 of her 26 points in the first half, including the team’s first seven, to go along with seven first half rebounds. She finished the game with nine rebounds.
“I do what my team needs me to do,” said Harberts. “Today, I was able to get a lot of low post touches and I was told to go at them. At the beginning, I was actually making my layups, which was great for me.”
USC (14-11, 8-6) used a full-court press to cause 14 UCLA turnovers that led to 13 of its 35 points heading into the locker room. The defense also caused turnovers by double-teaming UCLA’s post players and forcing them to make poor passes.
“[Doubling the post] was a major thing that we wanted to do,” said USC coach Michael Cooper. “Our Achilles’ heel has been points in the paint. We knew that to have a chance to win the game, we had to get the ball out of the low post and make them take tough shots from the perimeter.”
Another part of USC’s first half success was its ability to get to the free throw line. As a team, it shot 13-20 from the line, while the Bruins (12-13, 7-7) shot a mere 4-7.
Senior guard Briana Gilbreath recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 2-3 from beyond the arc.
UCLA’s forward Markel Walker tried to keep her team in the game by recording a double-double of her own, but it was not enough as she was outplayed in the post by Harberts.
In the second half, the Bruins made a dent in USC’s lead with turnovers, which swelled to 23 at one point. USC had 16 second-half turnovers compared to just eight in the first half.
USC finished with 30 points in the paint compared to UCLA’s 26. The Women of Troy also out-rebounded the Bruins 48-37.
After being swept in the season series with UCLA last season, this year’s Women of Troy returned the favor by winning both match-ups this year.
The season sweep marks the first time that senior guards Ashley Corral and Gilbreath have swept their crosstown rivals.
“It feels great. To win against your crosstown rival means a lot,” said Gilbreath. “We were glad to sweep them for the first time in my career — it was amazing.”
The victory also moves USC out of a fourth-place tie with the Bruins and just half a game behind third-place Arizona State.
USC plays host to the Arizona schools this week, with Arizona playing at the Galen Center on Thursday and ASU on Saturday.