USC Ices First Pac-10 Victory In 62-56 Win At WSU

Dec. 31, 2006

PULLMAN, WASH. -- The USC women's basketball team closed down 2006 with its first Pac-10 win of the season, snapping a three-game losing start to conference play with a 62-56 win at Washington State on Sunday in Pullman, Wash. Chloe Kerr led the charge for the Women of Troy, punching in 10 of her final 19 points during the first half to lead all scorers in the game. The Trojans hit a season-high 22 free throws in the game, including 12 in the second half to help get a step ahead of the Cougars by the final buzzer. USC improves to 7-7 overall and 1-3 in Pac-10 play with the win, while Washington State moves to 5-9, 1-3.

Although USC made a season-high 22 free throws, it also shot a season-high 36 attempts. That left the Trojans with a season-low 61 percent free throw effort in the game. All the same, it was enough to secure a much-needed win for USC, and its 13th straight victory over Washington State. It also marked USC's first win of the year by a margin of fewer than 10 points.

USC adjusted to three early 3-pointers by the Cougars, allowing no more WSU threes to fall in the first half. USC stayed a step ahead of the Cougars until WSU reeled off nothing but free throws in the final three minutes of the first half to take a late lead that was erased in the last seconds of the half with Chloe Kerr's 10th points of the night on a layup to give USC a 34-33 lead at the break. During the second half, WSU hit a seven-minute cold streak that allowed USC to move ahead -- albeit by a relatively slim margin. Thanks to a bucket from Kerr and six straight free throws, USC came from behind and took a 50-44 lead before the Cougars were able to score again. USC would hold WSU at bay the rest of the way en route to the road win.

The game opened more or less as a 3-point shootout between the two teams, as WSU hit three long ones in the first five minutes and USC added a pair. Shay Murphy's 3-pointer at 16:14 was followed by four straight USC free throws to push the Trojans on a 7-0 run to a 15-9 lead that was soon cut to 15-13 with a pair of WSU scores from Marisa Stotler. A 6-0 Cougar run erased a once five-point USC lead, until Jamie Hagiya drained a 3-pointer to push USC back ahead 23-21 with 7:30 to go in the first half. The Cougars closed in and actually took a late lead thanks to a 7-of-8 free-throw performance from Nakijia Kelly in the half. WSU was up 33-32 with 14 seconds remaining, but one last USC possession was finished off by a layup from Chloe Kerr -- her 10th points of the half.

The teams remained in stride through the first 10 minutes of the second half, until Simone Jelks knocked down a pair of free throws after a fast break sparked by a Murphy steal to put USC up 47-44 at 8:20. Parker hit the back end of two free throws after ripping down an offensive board, and then Hagiya nabbed a steal and was fouled on the ensuing layup. She dropped in both to push USC up 49-44, and WSU continued on its scoring slump, which extended for seven minutes until Colleen Betteridge hit WSU's first three of the half to make it 49-47 at 5:59. Hagiya asnwered right back with a 3-pointer of her own, pushing the Trojans back up by five at 52-47.

Kerr's fourth foul of the game led to a pair of free throws from Stotler to close WSU back within three at the five-minute mark. Kerr converted low and then answered a DuRocher 3-pointer with a jumper to give USC a 57-52 edge with 2:10 on the clock. Up against the shot clock, Murphy was fouled and knocked down her pair of free throws to push the Trojans up 59-52 at 1:24. With WSU in a press, USC turned the ball over and Stotler scored from thte baseline to cut that lead to three in the final minute. Forced to foul, WSU put Hagiya on the line with 40 seconds to go. She missed, but after another defensive stop by the Women of Troy, Allison Jaskowiak was sent to the line. She made the first for a 60-54 USC lead with 31 seconds remaining. A WSU turnover on its next possession ended up with Murphy at the charity stripe. She hit both as USC went ahead 62-54 with 15 seconds left. The Cougars managed a last field goal, but with a 62-56 lead and only six ticks left, the Women of Troy were secure in their first Pac-10 win of the season.

USC now returns to the Galen Center for a shot at posting its first Pac-10 wins on the Trojans' new home court. USC hosts Oregon at 7 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 5) and then plays Oregon State at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 7).

USC 62, Washington State 56
USC 34 - 28 -- 62
WSU 33 - 23 -- 56

GAME NOTES:
• Shay Murphy scored in double figures for the 39th straight game.
• This is the 13th straight USC win over WSU.
• USC made a season-high 22 free throws and shot a season-high 36, but ended in a season-low 61 percent FT average.
• Simone Jelks tied her career high of 7 points.

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