USC continued its hot streak heading into the postseason with a 62-55 victory over the Washington Huskies. The Women of Troy strengthened its position as the third place team in the Pac-12 by withstanding a cold shooting streak in the second half.
Led by junior forward Christina Marinacci’s 19 points and 12 rebounds, USC finished the game on a 10-2 run after falling behind 53-52 with just over three minutes to play.
The game was back and forth in the middle stages. USC was able to goad the Huskies into 19 turnovers while only committing 11 of their own.
The Women of Troy took control in the second half with a 10-1 run with 8:22 to play in the game. USC’s bench was key in this game, with freshman guard Ariya Crook and sophomore forward Desire Bradley making key plays in the second half. The run was thanks to a scoring drought by Washington that spanned over four minutes.
Senior guard Briana Gilbreath continued her stellar play, finishing a well-rounded game with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. She also added one block.
In the first half, USC out-shot Washington, making 39 percent of its shots from the floor compared to the Huskies’ 36 percent. This led to a 34-25 halftime lead that would be depleted in the second half when Washington started off on a 6-0 run.
USC was able to hang on just enough in the face of Washington’s scorching 63 percent shooting percentage in the second half. In the nail-biting final minutes, Gilbreath put the Women of Troy ahead by making two free throws with less than two minutes left in the game. After a crucial defensive stop on the next possession, USC scored to make it a two-possession game, effectively sealing the victory.
With the exception of Stanford, USC is arguably the hottest team in the conference heading into the Pac-12 Tournament.
With just one regular season left to play at Washington State, USC has now won five games in a row, a streak it hopes to continue all the way to an NCAA tournament berth. Such an accomplishment would be the first time in coach Michael Cooper’s tenure that the Women of Troy appear in the chase for the national championship.
Tip-off for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. in Pullman, Washington.