USC 64 - Oregon State 57
SEATTLE – Oregon State was the more successful shooting team, hitting 36 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc. But it was seventh-seeded USC’s free throws that made the difference in the Trojans’ 64-57 win over the 10th-seeded Beavers in the first game of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament Thursday at KeyArena.
USC made 35 of 46 attempts from the foul line while OSU hit just seven of its 12 opportunities. Three USC players – Christina Marinacci, Cassie Harberts and Ariya Crook – made double-digit attempts off of Oregon State’s 27 fouls. OSU’s first free throw attempt didn’t come until early in the second half.
Crook led all players in scoring with 17 points while Harberts, the Trojans’ standout freshman and the Pac-12’s third-leading scorer, followed with 16 points and 14 rebounds. OSU sophomore Ali Gibson led her squad with 13 points.
“I saw Cassie was struggling the first half, so I thought with my energy and my speed I could get it going for her," Crook said. "I feel like that was my role, so I’m glad I was able to do that for the team.”
The two teams played close until USC pulled away with about four minutes to play. The largest spread of the game was 9 points.
"We knew we’d have to play one of our better games," USC head coach Michael Cooper said. "They made us work for everything."
Up next for USC is second-seeded Cal, who swept the Trojans in their two meetings this season. Tip-off is Friday at noon PT on Pac-12 Networks.
Cooper knows it will take a 40-minute effort to upset one of the tournament favorites.
“The important thing is that we come out and compete for 40 minutes," he said. "The first time we played them we competed for just half the game. It took us some time to get in there. The second time I thought they just came into our place and imposed their will on us. This is on a neutral court. It's going to be a very exciting game."