The USC women’s basketball team came into Westwood hoping to avenge a 68-54 loss to rival UCLA on Tuesday, February 19, and to end a season-high seven-game winning streak.
Unfortunately, The Women of Troy were unable to accomplish either mission, losing to No. 17 UCLA 63-58 on Sunday, February 26 in Westwood.
Junior forward Cassie Harberts led USC (8-19, 5-11 Pac-12) with 22 points, including 15 in the second half, and 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Ariya Crook added 16 points (14 in the second half) and six rebounds, while junior forward Desiree Bradley added seven points on 2-of-10 shooting and four rebounds.
Nirra Fields and Thea Lemberger led the Bruins (21-6, 12-4 Pac-12) with 12 points each, while Markel Walker finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Fields and Lemberger combined for 11 rebounds, nine assists, and five steals.
The loss is the Women of Troy’s eighth in a row and their 11th in their last 12 games. Their last win came on January 27, when they beat Arizona 74-57 at the Galen Center. UCLA has won eight of their last ten.
USC jumped out to an 8-4 lead early, but were unable to make a basket for over six minutes, allowing UCLA to go on an 8-0 run and take the lead. The Bruins led 27-22 at the half, in large part because of USC’s 17 turnovers compared to UCLA’s eight, leading to 13 points off turnovers for UCLA versus only two for USC. Both teams shot 30 percent from the field, while the Women of Troy out-rebounded UCLA 23-18. Cassie Harberts had seven points and six rebounds at the half for USC, while Desiree Bradley added five points and three rebounds. Nirra Fields led UCLA with six points at the half.
Both teams came out ready to play in the second half, with the Bruins stretching their lead out to 47-32 with 9:09 left to play on a basket by Fields. The Women of Troy then went on an 11-0 run over the next two minutes to cut the lead to four.
The two teams would keep pace with each other, but the Women of Troy were unable to seize the lead despite cutting it down to as close as 51-50 with 3:05 left on a basket from Harberts. The Bruins held a 56-52 lead with 30 seconds remaining, and would make seven of eight free throws to seal the win.
UCLA would seize the rebounding advantage in the second half, out-rebounding USC 40-39 for the game. USC shot 35 percent from the field compared to UCLA’s 37 percent, and managed to close the gap in the turnover margin a little, committing 22 turnovers in the game to UCLA’s 18. USC was also able to capitalize on UCLA’s mistakes in the second half, scoring 15 points off turnovers as opposed to UCLA’s four, and dominated in the paint, outscoring the Bruins 20-6 in the paint in the second half.
The Women of Troy conclude their regular season with a pair of games at Arizona schools, as they take on Arizona (12-15, 4-12 Pac-12) on Friday, March 1 at 7 pm, followed by Arizona State (13-15, 5-11 Pac-12) on Sunday, March 3 at 12 pm. They then travel to Seattle, Wash. for the Pac-12 Tournament from Thursday, March 7 to Sunday, March 10.
Last season, USC was bounced from the first round of the tournament in a 69-55 loss to Washington State that came just five days after USC beat the Cougars in Pullman, Wash. 65-54.
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