Women’s basketball struggles in second half again in loss to Washington

After collapsing in the second half against Washington State in its previous matchup, No. 25 USC once again struggled in the second half in a 69-60 loss to Washington on the road.

Coming off what was arguably their worst performance of the year, the Women of Troy (14-4, 2-4) faced another tough matchup against the nation’s leading scorer Kelsey Plum and the Washington Huskies (14-4, 5-2).

After a slow start to the second quarter, USC used a 7-0 run following a timeout to extend its lead to nine. The Trojans finished the first half with a 34-24 lead.

USC started the second half poorly, shooting 2-of-12 while committing five turnovers and allowing the Huskies to shoot 8-of-11 in the third quarter. Washington outscored the Women of Troy 24-7 in the third and finished the quarter with a 48-41 lead. The Huskies were able to extend the lead to as much as 16 in the fourth with three minutes remaining on a pair of free throws by Plum.

“It’s very frustrating to lose a lead, especially so quickly in the third quarter,” Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. “We have got to come out with better energy, better intensity and we have to play better defense.”

Plum was unstoppable down the stretch, finishing with a game-high 32 points, including 21 in the second half. Her teammate Chantel Osahor had 14 points along with 11 rebounds.

“We let Kelsey get into a rhythm and you can’t do that, especially against the nation’s leading scorer,” Cooper-Dyke said.

Temi Fagbenle had a team-high 25 points and 14 rebounds but was limited to six points in the second half as the Huskies pulled away. Courtney Jaco was one of many USC players who struggled, shooting 1-of-13 from the field and 1-of-12 from three.

“We just wanted to make [Fagbenle] feel a little more crowded,” Osahor said the Pac-12 Network. “She was making good 12-15 footers and we just had to have a hand up.”

USC did a much better job of holding on to the ball today, committing only 13 turnovers after succumbing 20 to Washington State but ultimately it didn’t matter as the Women of Troy allowed the Huskies to shoot 48.9 percent from the field and 7-of-11 from deep.

Jordan Adams and Brianna Barrett missed their second consecutive game and their absence was felt.

“Jordan Adams and Brianna Barrett are everything we need and are everything that we’re missing right now, especially their leadership,” Cooper-Dyke said.

With the loss, USC has now lost two straight and drops to 14-4 overall and 2-4 in conference play, after starting the season 12-0. The Women of Troy face a tough slate of games next week with matchups against No. 11 Stanford and Cal.