USC women’s basketball will enter the Pac-12 tournament with momentum after ending regular season play on Saturday with a season-high six-game win streak.
The Women of Troy (18-11, 12-6) ended the regular season with a 65-54 win over Washington State (11-19, 5-13) in the final matchup of a two-game road trip.
Senior guard Ashley Corral and junior forward Christina Marinacci helped pace a 13-0 run for the Women of Troy in the second half that gave USC a 11-point lead over the Cougars.
Washington State managed to whittle the deficit to six with 3:33 remaining, but stingy defense from USC allowed just one more point from the Cougars for the rest of the game.
“We’re very good at team defense, and that’s something that the whole team prides itself in,” Corral said.
Corral notched her third career double-double with a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds. Marinacci had 18 points and six rebounds, and sophomore forward Cassie Harberts chipped in 11 points.
Though USC never trailed in the contest, it could not extend its lead past single digits until its 13-0 run with less than 15 minutes to go.
“[USC coach Michael Cooper] basically made sure we had our focus and told us that it was winning time,” Marinacci said. “We needed to go in and forget that we were tired. We kept pushing and luckily just made a run.”
The Women of Troy shot 35.1 percent and forced 18 turnovers from the Cougars, who had just snapped a seven-game skid with a win over UCLA on Thursday.
USC carries its six-game win streak to the Pac-12 tournament with high hopes.
“[Senior guard Briana Gilbreath] and I were saying that since we’ve been here, we’ve never ended on a win streak, so this is huge for us,” Corral said.
As one of the top four teams in the conference, the Women of Troy will have a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament and will begin play on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at the Galen Center against the winner of the UCLA and Arizona game.
USC had already clinched the third seed in the Pac-12 tournament before the matchup against Washington State, but the Women of Troy continued to battle for a win in their attempt to earn an NCAA tournament berth.
“We’re shooting for that magical 20 number, and this was just one more team that was in our way,” Corral said. “We needed to get [the win] for our future, and that was our focus.”
In the Pac-12 tournament, the Women of Troy hope to notch two wins to not only advance to the conference title game, but to hit 20 victories, which significantly ups their chances at earning a spot among the 64 teams in the NCAA tournament.
“If we come out of the Pac-12 tournament with at least 20 wins, there’s no way the NCAA committee will not put us in,” Marinacci said. “That’s our mindset going into these next two games.”