No. 19 USC Drops 67-63 Loss At South Dakota State

Nov. 17, 2006

BROOKINGS, S.D. -- The No. 19-ranked USC women's basketball team got stuck in a hole it couldn't climb out of in a cold-shooting night at South Dakota State, suffering a 67-63 loss after a second-half comeback fell short. USC's Shay Murphy led all players with 23 points and 14 rebounds on the night, and Chloe Kerr added 15 points in front of a boisterous South Dakota crowd. South Dakota State only hit 12 shots from the floor -- seven of which were threes -- but the rest came from the free-throw line. The Jackrabbits wsere led in scoring by Megan Vogel's 22 points, which included a solid 15 free throws, and two other SDSU players scored in double figures in the game. USC moves to 1-1 on the year with the loss, while South Dakota State improves to 2-0.

Murphy and Hailey Dunham were the only Trojans producing points throughout most of the first half, as USC stared at a 10-point hole with six minutes left in the first half after South Dakota State hit its fourth 3-pointer of the game. The referees called the Women of Troy for back-to-back offensive fouls on takes to the hoop to steal away a couple USC scoring chances. Meanwhile, teh Jackrabbits nailed another three to take a 26-13 lead, and then the Trojans were called for their 13th foul of the half to set up another set of free throws for South Dakota. Foul number 14 wasn't far away, and soon SDSU had a 30-13 lead. Aarika Hughes then knocked down a jumper to end a scoring drought for the Trojans. But, another whistle under the Jackranbbit basket helped SDSU to a 31-15 lead. At 1:55, USC earned a chance at the charity stripe, where Dunham knocked down the first of her one-and one. Dunham intercepted a pass soon after to get the Trojans another possession, but the South Dakota State defense got the ball back. In the final minute, Hughes hit another jumper to get the score to 21-18, only to have one last foul (16th of the half) called on the Trojans before the break. Both free throws went in, leaving USC trailing 33-18 for the second half of play.

With three active players sidelined by injuries, foul trouble was a difficult obstacle to overcome, but with the fouls coming more evenly in the second half, the Trojans were able to find a better groove. Although South Dakota State's Andrea Verdegan hit a pair of threes, USC answered with back-to-back long ones from Murphy to cut into the lead 43-34. Chloe Kerr finished off a pass down low to make it 43-26. Murphy picked up her fourth foul during the press, and then the Jackrabbits hit four free throws and got a runner from Megan Vogel to go up 49-36 with 10 minutes to go. Vogel drew Kerr into her fourth foul soon after and finished off her tosses just before a Jackrabbit steal and layup got SDSU ahead 54-38. With four players now strapped with four fouls apiece entering the final eight minutes, the Women of Troy kept pushing. After SDSU took a 54-38 lead, Murphy made good on some free throws and drilled a 3-pointer that was followed by a jumper from Dunham and a 2-for-4 effort from the free-throw line by Kerr, USC had cut in closer for a 55-48 score entering the final four minutes. A pair of free throws from Jennifer Warkenthien pushed SDSU up 57-48, but Jamie Hagiya answered with a pair of her own to stay within seven at the 3:00 mark. Defenses held for the next minute and a half before SDSU got back to the line. Kerr converted on a three-point play with a minute left to make it 61-55, prompting USC to stick with full-court pressure. Forcecd to foul for a chance to get the ball back, Vogel knocked down on free throw, and Hagiya then drained a three to make it 62-58 with 46 seconds to go. Hagiya wrapped another three around more Vogel free throws to get within three at 64-61 with 30 seconds on the clock. Two more Vogel free throws came with 15 seconds left for a 66-61 edge that went up to 67-61 with five seconds left. Kerr hit a jumper in the final second to close out the game in a 67-63 loss for the Women of Troy.

USC now heads to Columbus, Ohio, to take on No. 6 Ohio State. The Trojans tip off against the host Buckeyes at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday (Nov. 19).

South Dakota State 67, USC 63
USC 18 - 45 -- 63
SDSU 33 - 34 -- 67

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