USC Pushes Into Pac-10 Semis With 81-77 Win Over Washington

March 3, 2007

SAN JOSE, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team got the job done once again in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament, pushing past a tough Washington squad to earn a place against top-seeded Stanford in the semifinals. Five different Women of Troy hit double figures in the win, helping USC tack up a crucial 81-77 win over the Huskies on Saturday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. It was the third year in a row that the two teams opened the Pac-10 tournament against one another, and the second straight time USC has pulled out the win. This one improved the Trojans' overall record to 17-12, while Washington moves to 18-12 as both teams again are in contention for a place in the NCAA Tournament.

USC's top scorer Shay Murphy took just two shots in the first half, but the rest of the Trojan squad made the most of their shooting opportunities, as USC shot 59 percent in the first half. Washington was shooting well also, going 48 percent from the floor. Where USC was behind was from the free-throw line, going 10-of-19 in the half while still managing to hold a 44-43 edge by halftime after the lead had alread changed hands 10 times. USC led by as much as nine points with seven minutes left in the game, but Washington fought back and tied it up 71-71 with 2:29 to go. After a silent first half of scoring, Murphy ended up with 10 of USC's last 12 points, while senior Jamie Funn delivered a big block and a baseline jumper to help stave off a sucessful comeback by the Huskies and help push the Women of Troy into the Pac-10 Tournament semifinals. By the final buzzer, USC had five players standing in double figures led by 14 apiece from Murphy and Chloe Kerr, along with a career -high 13 from Funn, 12 from Nadia Parker and 11 from Jamie Hagiya. Murphy also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season. The Huskies were led by Cameo Hicks with 18 points, with Cheri Craddock adding 12 and Jill Bell scoring 11.

Washington answered early USC buckets with quick scores out of their press breaker. A 3-pointer from senior guard Jamie Hagiya got USC ahead 7-6, and then Washington's Emily Florence hit a jumper for an 8-7 lead at 16:30. MOrghan Medlock missed her free throws, but Hailey Dunham grabbed the offensive board, and Hagiya finished off the possession with another three for a 10-8 USC lead. Medlock hit a short jumper next for a 12-8 USC lead. Washington fought back, and jumped back ahead 15-13 on a three from Florence at 13:45. Jill Bell made it a 7-0 Huskies run, but Nadia Parker ended it with a three-point play that made it a 17-16 Washington edge with 13:12 on the clock. A basket slipped in by Funn was followed by a Hagiya dish to Chloe Kerr to grab back the lead for USC at 22-21 with 10:55 to go. Back-to-back buckets from Medlock then put USC ahead 26-23 at 9:30. The lead changed hands several more times in the next few minutes. Parker finished off another three-point play to give USC a 31-30 lead at 6:37. Later, Aarika Hughes scooped up an offensive rebound and got the putback for a 33-31 lead at 5:45. After two Kerr free throws, USC nabbed a steal and Dunham dumped in the layup for a 39-34 USC lead entering the two-minute mark. She scored at 59 seconds as well to make it 43-39 USC. Four straight free throws from Washington's Erica Schelly got it to a two-point game with 45 seconds left, and then a layup from Cameo Hicks tied it up with eight seconds left. Funn was fouled with one tick left, and the senior hit one of her free throws to get USC a 44-43 halftime advantage.

Murphy's scoring silence was broken first thing in the second half with a layup 15 seconds into action. Funn and Kerr then nailed back-to-back buckets, and USC was up 50-43 at 17:50. Jill Bell converted two quick baskets for the Huskies next, however, cutting the lead to 50-47. Parker hit a jumper just before Dunham was tagged with her fourth foul of the game at 15:10. Kerr followed up a Florence three with a score in the key to hold USC ahead by four 56-52 at 12:20. Hagiya drained her third three of the game at 7:42 to become the fourth Trojan to hit double figures and push USC ahead 65-58, and then the Trojan defense forced a shot clock violation by the Huskies at 7:12. Murphy scored in the lane for a 67-58 USC lead, only to have Craddock nail her third three to bring the score to 67-61 USC with 6:25 to go. Hicks got it back to a four-point game with a layup at 5:45, and then Craddock banked in another 3-pointer, cutting it to 67-66 USC at the 5-minute mark. Murphy slipped in a putback that was followed by a long two from Washington's Breanne Watson, and then Kerr delivered low to make it 71-68 USC with 3:20 on the clock. Stefanie Clark tied the game up for the ninth time -- the first time in the second half -- with a 3-pointer at 2:21 that made it 71-71. Murphy slipped in another putback for a 73-71 lead, and then Funn came up with a block that Hagiya grabbed. Funn hit a huge two just before the one-minute mark for a 75-71 USC lead. Washington called a timeout with 55.8 seconds left. Kerr dragged down a miss by Hicks with 36.2 seconds left, and USC called a timeout on their next inbounds. Forced to foul, Washington sent Murphy to the line with 33.6 seconds on the clock, and the senior guard became the fifth Trojan in double figures to get USC ahead 77-71. Hicks hit a quick three for the Huskies with 28.4 seconds on the clock, cutting the score to 77-74 USC. Hagiya went to the free-throw line next at 27.7 and missed the front end of her one-an d-one. Hicks was fouled and hit one of her two free throws to make it 77-75 USC with 18 seconds to go. With 16.8 seconds on the clock, Murphy went to the line and drained two more free throws, then nailed two more with 7.5 remaining after a Hicks layup to secure an 81-77 win for the Women of Troy.

USC now refocuses for the semifinals, where the Trojans come up against top-seeded Stanford at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday (March 4). The Pac-10 championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday (March 5).

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