The USC women’s basketball team closed out the regular season over the weekend, snapping an eight-game losing streak with a 74-62 win over Arizona on Friday and a 67-60 win over Arizona State on Sunday.
With 13 points and six rebounds, senior forward Christina Marinacci led the Women of Troy in her final regular season game, while junior forward Cassie Harberts added 12 points and 10 rebounds. The double-double was Harberts’ 10th of the season and 16th of her career. Sophomore guards Ariya Crook and Kiki Alofaituli added 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Senior forward Janae Fulcher finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds for Arizona State (13-17, 5-13 Pac-12), while sophomore guard Promise Amukumara added 10 points and five rebounds.
USC (10-19, 7-11 Pac-12) led 34-23 at the half behind the combined efforts of Marinacci (seven points, four rebounds), junior forward Desiree Bradley (six points), Alofaituli (five points, three rebounds) and Harberts (four points, five rebounds). The Women of Troy shot 48 percent from the field compared to ASU’s 28 percent, including four-of-eight from 3-point range. ASU, on the other hand, was just one-of-nine. Fulcher led the Sun Devils with 10 points and five rebounds at the half.
“It was weird playing in my last conference game,” Marinacci said. “I don’t think the season is over for us at all. Anything can happen in the Pac-12 tournament.”
After both teams knocked down a 3-pointer to start the game, the Women of Troy held the lead throughout the first half, up by as many as 13 with 3:12 left in the half.
USC came out in the second half hoping to avoid a repeat of their previous game against ASU, where they were up by 16 at the half and wound up losing by seven.
The Sun Devils, however, came ready to repeat that performance, breaking open what was an even matchup on the boards at the half (17-17) and out-rebounding USC 40-31, including 20 to six on the offensive boards.
ASU would cut the lead to four with eight minutes left, but a pair of layups from Harberts and sophomore forward Alexyz Vaioletama, as well as eight free throws from Crook in the last 1:32, helped hold off another ASU comeback. USC finished shooting 42 percent from the field as well as 25-of-31 from the free-throw line.
Harberts and Marinacci both racked up double-doubles to lead the Women of Troy against the Wildcats (12-16, 4-13 Pac-12) on Friday. Harberts finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds for her 15th career double-double and ninth this season, while Marinacci finished with 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for her seventh career double-double and second of the season.
Junior forward Erica Barnes led the Wildcats with 15 points, while junior guard Carissa Crutchfield and senior guard Davellyn Whyte added 13 points each.
Arizona started off the game with a pair of 3-pointers, jumping out to an early lead. USC then went on a 21-3 run in eight minutes, taking a 23-9 lead and holding the Wildcats to only one basket until Whyte’s 3-pointer made it a 23-12 game.
The Wildcats would cut the lead to as little as eight in the first half, but USC would rally back to take a 39-26 lead at halftime. Marinacci grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half to help USC control the boards by a 29-13 ratio, while freshman guard Brianna Barrett had seven assists.
The Wildcats came out in the second half looking for a win, cutting USC’s lead to five in the first six minutes of the second half. After a 3-pointer by Vaioletama stretched the lead to 10, Arizona would hit three triples to cut the lead to a single point with nine minutes left. A three from Crook and a pair of threes from Desiree Bradley, however, gave USC a 69-58 advantage with four minutes left and secured the win.
“We had three [or] four people in double figures the past two games,” Harberts said. “We were sharing the ball a lot more and we were hitting more shots. I think we really needed these two wins on the road. It’s really important to keep this momentum and keep it rolling.”
Marinacci, meanwhile, felt the same way.
“These two games were probably the two most important games of the Pac-12 conference,” Marinacci added.
The Women of Troy will compete in the Pac-12 championships in Seattle from Thursday, March 7, to Sunday, March 10.