USC Rings Up A Road Comeback, Upsets No. 17 ASU
Jan. 1, 2010
TEMPE, ARIZ. - The USC women's basketball team weathered an Arizona State scoring storm and came through in the end, stealing a long-awaiting road win in Tempe, Ariz., by cashing in on a late surge thanks to four 3-pointers from Heather Oliver and late buckets from Briana Gilbreath. By the time they were done, USC saw a nine-point deficit erased and the Trojans take their first lead of the game in the final minute. Ashley Corral free throws padded the push for the Women of Troy, and USC pocketed a 60-56 upset win over the No. 17 Sun Devils on their home court in the Pac-10 opener on New Year's Day.
The victory lifts the Trojans to an important win to start out the 2009-10 Pac-10 stretch, and improves USC to 7-5 overall. It was USC's first win over the Sun Devils in Tempe since Jan. 17, 2003, and more importantly gives USC its third win over a ranked opponent this season. Arizona State is now 8-4 overall. USC was led in scoring by Briana Gilbreath's 16 points, with Heather Oliver a step behind with 14 - 12 of which came in that second-half 3-point flurry - and Hailey Dunham finishing with 12. Arizona State had nine different players score, although only Danielle Orsillo hit double digits with 16 points.
USC was plagued by scoring ruts throughout the game, while Arizona State managed a consistent scoring clip, shooting 48 percent in the first half and 46 in the second to close the game with a 47.2 percent effort from the floor. USC found a late groove in the first half to overcome a 10-point hole in the half and make it a three-point game down 30-27 at halftime. Things hit a lull for the Trojans again in the second half, down nine points with under five minutes left before Oliver's three-pointers started raining and USC stole the momentum and the upset win.
It took the Trojans almost five minutes to get their first score from the floor before getting some shots to fall to close back in early. ASU would go on to climb ahead by 10 with six minutes to go in the half, but USC kicked things into gear with a putback from Hailey Dunham and the half's first 3-pointer with a blast from Briana Gilbreath. Ashley Corral slipped in a pair of free throws at the 4-minute mark to make it a 7-0 USC run to close within three at 23-20. Down the stretch, Gilbreath converted a three-point play that got it to a two-point game at 2:33, and Kari LaPlante answered a Danielle Orsillo three with a pair of scores in the paint to cut it to one, down 28-27 with just under a minute to go. A pair of late ASU free throws carried the Sun Devils to a 30-27 lead for halftime.
Aarika Hughes drained a three for the Women of Troy at 16:40 to get the game back to a tie for the first time since tipoff. It was even again at 34-34 with a bucket from Dunham, but the Sun Devils pushed out ahead with a 6-0 run and managed to hold a nine-point lead as the teams crossed into the final five minutes with ASU leading 53-44. Oliver came up big with a pair of 3-pointers for the Trojans to force it to a five-point game with 2:30 to go. She doubled that push in the next minute and a half, knocking down two more around a single ASU free throw - the only free-throw made in seven attempts by the Sun Devils in the second half. Oliver's fourth three cut the score to a 56-53 ASU lead with 1:35 on the clock. Gilbreath went to the line next and closed the gap to one as she drained two free throws at 1:09. Gilbreath then capitalized on a Sun Devil turnover, taking the steal down the court and slipping a pass to Corral, who gave it right back for the layup and USC's first lead of the game.
Now up 57-56 with 47 seconds remaining, the Trojans stayed strong and watched Kayli Murphy miss back-to-back free throws to keep USC hopes alive. Gilbreath sucked in the rebound, and Corral was sent to the line next. She sank both shots to make it a 59-56 USC lead with 22 ticks to go, and would go on the defensive end for a long rebound for one last trip to the line and one more point to pad USC ahead of ASU 60-56 to stay and secure victory.
USC now turns to take a visit to Arizona to face the Wildcats in a 2 p.m. MT Pac-10 clash on Sunday (Jan. 3) in Tucson, Ariz.
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