USC Women Stay Ahead For 61-34 Win Over OSU

Jan. 28, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team led start to finish for the first time in conference play this season, taking one step closer to its best Pac-10 start in over a decade. In its fifth straight victory, USC topped visiting Oregon State 61-34 on Thursday night at the Galen Center in the Trojans' most powerful defensive effort this season. USC improves to 13-6 overall and 7-1 in Pac-10 play, while Oregon State goes to 9-9, 1-7.

It was slow going on both ends in the first half, although the Trojans heated up a bit to take a 26-19 lead at halftime - the first time in six games that USC had not trailed at the half. The USC defense helped slow the OSU offense to the tune of a 29.6 percent shooting outing in the first half, while USC stayed matched with the Beavers on the boards 18-18 and closed out the half shooting 36.7 percent from the floor. USC's pressure stayed tough in the second half, dropping the OSU shooting percentage to 19 percent in the second half for a final 24.5 percent outing. USC, meanwhile, upped things with a 52-percent second half to close out at 43.9 percent.

For the fourth time this season, USC beat out their opponents on the boards, outrebounding the Beavers 37-31 while serving up a season-high 11 blocks in the game. Briana Gilbreath had five of those to go along with 13 points, while Ashley Corral led all scorers with 19 points and seven assists. Hailey Dunham was just a board away from a double-double, getting 10 points and 9 rebounds. Oregon State was led by Talisa Rhea's 16 points.

Staunch defensive pressure by the Women of Troy kept Oregon State from getting to double figures until the 8-minute mark of the game, but USC was also slow on the offensive front. USC was up 11-6 with 11:35 on the clock after a bucket from Hailey Dunham and a score from Briana Gilbreath off a slick pass from Aarika Hughes. OSU would get a three to go at 9:00, and then scored down low to make it a 13-11 USC lead with 8:05 left in the half. Back-to-back jumpers from Gilbreath and a three from Heather Oliver surrounded a Beaver bucket to carry the Trojans ahead 20-13 with 4:30 remaining. Corral would wrap a three and a 3-point play around a pair of Talisa Rhea free throws and a Julie Futch score in the remaining minutes, and USC held a 26-19 lead at the half.

Kari LaPlante got tagged with two quick fouls early in the first half to go to the bench with four fouls at 18:22, but Corral nailed her third three next to boost the Trojans back up and take a 31-21 lead at 17:45. Oliver blasted one of her own soon after, and USC was up 34-21 with 16:35 on the clock. Hughes also got in on the 3-point action, burying a three at 14:50 to answer a Beaver basket down low. Minutes later, Oliver drained another one, and Corral served up her seventh assist of the night for a Christina Marinacci score that took USC ahead 43-27 as the 10-minute mark approached. A 7-0 USC run keyed by yet another three from Corral pushed USC up 50-30 with 6:50 to go, and the Women of Troy stayed on cruise control the rest of the way. With one more block coming from Marinacci to pad USC's season-high blocking effort on the night, USC closed out the game with a 61-34 Pac-10 win.

The Trojans now turn to face Oregon to round out the first half of Pac-10 play. A win would give USC its best start in conference action since the 1996-97 season. USC squares off against the Ducks at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 30) at the Galen Center.

GAME NOTES:
USC had a season-high 11 blocks.
Christina Marinacci had a career-high three blocks

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