USC Women Serve Up Another Upset Win In The Islands
Nov. 28, 2009
ST. THOMAS, USVI - The USC women's basketball team won its second straight game against a top 25 opponent, taking down No. 19 Mississippi State 64-60 in the final round of the Paradise Jam, hosted by the University of the Virgin Islands in front of 2,503 fans Saturday night. USC sophomore Ashley Corral, who averaged 11 points and 36 minutes a game in the three games, was named to the Paradise Jam All-Tournament Team and led the Women of Troy to a second-place finish in the Reef Division after falling to Rutgers and beating No. 13 Texas and No. 19 MSU. USC improves to 3-3 on the season, with all three wins coming against 2009 NCAA Tournament teams, while Mississippi State goes to 4-3 overall.
The Women of Troy kept Mississippi State's offense, which averages 76.7 points per game, in check throughout the duration of the game. USC shot 41 percent from the field compared to the Lady Bulldogs' 35 percent. Mississippi State shut down the Trojans attack late in the game, however, not allowing a USC field goal in the last 8:41 in the game. Key free throws down the stretch from Briana Gilbreath and Ashley Corral were the difference in the game. The Women of Troy also got a strong performance off the bench as the Trojan subs outscored the Lady Bulldogs 20-6.
The Trojans held a 33-27 lead at the half, but saw it quickly diminish at the start of the second on a 6-0 Mississippi State run as the Bulldogs got ahead by three during the half. The seesaw battle continued with USC's16-5 run in response to move ahead by as much as nine. MSU would cut the lead down to two twice in the final 30 seconds of the game, but cool free throws from Gilbreath and then Corral came through to pad USC back ahead on the road to victory.
In the first half, the Women of Troy scored first on Ashley Corral's drive to the hoop. The lead did not last long as Mississippi State's Tysheka Grimes knocked down two 3-point shots early to give the Lady Bulldogs an 8-4 lead at 17:45. Grimes had the first of Mississippi State's 10 steals on the following possession, but missed the layup. USC's Aarika Hughes brought down a big offensive board and went right back up with it for the score at 16:03. The Lady Bulldogs came right back with a tip-in on Grimes' eighth point in less than five minutes of play to extend Mississippi State's lead to 10-6. The Women of Troy locked in on Grimes and Mississippi State the remainder of the first half, and USC's Gilbreath connected on a jumper to cut the lead to two at 12:54.
Christina Marinacci tied the game up on a basket under the hoop at 10:48 in the half. The Lady Bulldogs' Armelie Lumanu then made good on a fast-break layup, but USC's Hughes knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Trojans their first lead of the game at 15-14. Mississippi State's Lumanu tipped in her fourth point of the game to get the Lady Bulldogs back ahead. Trojan Michelle Franco's tip-in with 5:45 to play in the half gave USC a one-point lead at 24-23, and then USC built on its lead thanks to Hailey Dunham's three-point play as she attacked the basket and drew the foul. USC took a 33-27 lead into the second half of play on 53 percent shooting from the field.
Mississippi State's Alexis Rack connected from 3-point range on the Lady Bulldogs' first possession before Grimes and Lumanu recorded two steals for Mississippi State to help capture back the lead from USC with 18:26 remaining. The Women of Troy evened the score at 46 on Hughes' second 3-pointer, and then Corral knocked down two free throws to go ahead. Mississippi State had an answer, however, with Grimes' third 3-point shot of the game. Down by one, Daniela Roark scored on back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Trojans a five-point lead at 54-49. Mississippi State's Mary Kathryn Govero knocked down a jumper just inside the arc with 9:43 to play, but Kari LaPlante grabbed an offensive rebound and went straight back up with the ball for the answering score. The Women of Troy then increased their lead on Roark's third 3-pointer to go ahead 59-51.
Mississippi State's Lumanu sparked the comeback effort late for the Lady Bulldogs, scoring on three straight possessions as she cut the Trojans' lead to just two points with 0:28 remaining. Gilbreath and Corral put the game away at the line, making all four of their attempts to cap off a 64-60 Trojan victory. USC's Hughes had a team-high 14 points and three steals for the Women of Troy.
USC's next competition will be at Long Beach State Thursday (Dec. 3) at 7 p.m. against former USC player and assistant coach Jody Wynn and her 49ers squad.
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