Overtime Effort Earns USC Women 77-71 Road Win

Jan. 15, 2009

Box Score

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - It took a fierce comeback and overtime, but the USC women's basketball team got it done on the road on Thursday night with a 77-71 victory over host Arizona. Freshman Trojans Briana Gilbreath and Ashley Corral and senior Camille LeNoir had big nights in the victory. Gilbreath recorded the first double-double of her career with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Corral served up half her team-high 16 points during overtime, and LeNoir delivered 14 along with four steals to help anchor USC to an important Pac-10 road win. USC improves to 9-6 overall and is 3-1 in Pac-10 play, while Arizona moves to 7-9, 0-5.

After an 0-for start to the night, USC picked up the scoring pace and crawled out of an 11-0 hole to lead 42-34 going into halftime. A 50-percent shooting effort certainly helped the Trojan cause in the first-half comeback. But the tables turned again in the second half as the Trojans cooled off considerably and again saw the Wildcats spur off on some rough scoring runs. The Women of Troy were staring at a 10-point hole with 10 minutes left in regulation before managing to close in a tie things in the final minute to force overtime.

Refocused and hungry for the overtime push, the Trojans wound up scoring first on a take by Corral for USC's first lead since the 14-minute mark of the second half. Heather Oliver would answer a single Arizona free throw with USC's first 3-pointer since the first half, taking USC ahead 70-66 with 3:40 on the clock. Ify Ibekwe would secure her game-high scoring with a bucket to make it 70-68, and Arizona managed to cut it to a one-point affair until Corral came up big with back-to-back scores for a 75-70 USC advantage with 1:25 to go. One more Arizona free throw at 1:03 left USC up four until LeNoir took a charge at the top of the key to squelch a Wildcat possession with 26 seconds left. Corral iced a pair of free throws to close things out for a 77-71 USC win.

As it so happened, USC managed more points in the 5-minute overtime (12) than it had in the first 5-minute stretches of each half combined. USC fell into an 11-0 run to open the game's first 4:45 of play and was outscored 11-2 in the first four minutes of the second. But the Trojans' final push proved effective in carrying them past their hosts. USC freshmen Corral and Gilbreath led the Trojans with 16 and 15 points, respectively, and senior LeNoir added 14. Arizona was led by a double-double from Ify Ibekwe (20 pts, 10 rebs).

Arizona nailed a pair of threes to open things up and got a layup to go while USC's offense came up empty on its first several possessions. USC's first score came off a Camille LeNoir steal and take the other way to make it a 11-2 Arizona lead at 15:15. Five and a half minutes later, the Trojans had cracked the lid on the hoop to the tune of three 3-pointers and scores from Michelle Jenkins and Briana Gilbreath to tie things up 15-15 at 9:45. LeNoir helped charge the Trojans along on an 8-0 run for a 21-15 lead at 8:21 before Arizona earned yet another tip to the foul line and planted two free throws to stop the run and make it 21-17. The foul count tipped heavy in the Wildcats' favor through the first half as USC was tagged with eight fouls to zero by Arizona until Kari LaPlante was fouled after ripping down a defensive board with 7:15 on the clock.

Another early Arizona run took the Wildcats back into the lead with an 11-2 opening until Gilbreath went to the line for two. The freshman drained both to become the first Trojan in double figures, and USC was back on top 46-45 at 16:10. Later, Arizona manufactured a powerful scoring run, taking advantage of a slumping USC offense to the tune of a 15-0 surge that put the Trojans behind 60-50 at the 10-minute mark. Parker ended the drought with a score off the glass, and LeNoir carried in a pair of runners to lift herself into double digits and make it 60-56 Arizona with 7:50 on the clock. An Aarika Hughes free throw and another bucket from Gilbreath cut things to a one-point game at 60-59 with 5:36 to go. With two minutes to go, USC was trailing 64-59 until Corral hit Parker for a score in the paint and LeNoir delivered a long two to make it 64-63 with a minute left in regulation. Ify Ibekwe put in the front end of her trip to the free-throw line with 38 seconds to go only to have Hughes haul in the defensive rebound and set USC off on the attack. LeNoir slipped in a layup to tie things with 27.9 seconds remaining, and Ibekwe was just off the mark on the answering try for Arizona. Hughes again pulled in the rebound, and the teams were left tied up 65-65 to bring up overtime.

USC now heads to Tempe to take on Arizona State in a televised game tipping off a 4 p.m. MT on Saturday (Jan. 17). The game will be broadcast live by Fox Sports.

GAME NOTES:
- Briana Gilbreath had a career-high 10 rebounds and her first career double-double.
- Kari LaPlante tied her career-high with 2 blocks.
- Camille LeNoir tied her season high with four steals.

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