USC Holds Off Arizona, 81-78

Jan. 3, 2010

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Freshman guard Davellyn Whyte matched an Arizona freshman scoring record with 34 points, but the Wildcats came up short in a 81-78 overtime loss to USC, Sunday afternoon in McKale Center.

Whyte matched the Wildcats' single-game freshman scoring record set by Joanne Ineman on March 5, 1983 against Arizona State. It was also matched the 2nd-highest single-game total for any player in team history, tallied most recently by Ashley Whisonant against Oregon State on January 3, 2008.

The Wildcats' leading scorer was almost the entire offense for the home side early on, scoring the first 18 Arizona points of the game and 21-of-25 first half points.

The trouble for the Wildcats was that they came out flat on both ends of the floor and dug themselves an incredible hole. USC point guard Ashley Corral scored 14 points in the first 10 minutes of play, hitting four 3-pointers, as USC led 32-11 with 5:54 before the break.

Arizona found a pulse and trimmed nine points off the lead before halftime and continued that turnaround into the second half. Over an almost 17-minute period that covered parts of each of the first two periods, Arizona outscored USC, 45-11, completely turning the tables for a 56-43 lead.

USC responded with its own run, led this time by Heather Oliver. The senior shooting guard hit back-to-back treys, then converted a conventional 3-point play to spark a 19-2 run that saw USC go back on top, 62-58.

With 3:37 remaining, Arizona found its way back onto level terms as Whyte drove for a lay-up, then hit a three-ball before setting up Brooke Jackson for a backdoor lay-up with 1:14 left to tie the teams at 65-65. Neither team got a great look at the basket down the stretch, forcing overtime for the 2nd-straight season at McKale Center.

After trading early baskets, USC took control as Oliver drained another 3-pointer and hit four free throws in a 12-5 run to give the Women of Troy a 79-72 lead with 1:40 to play.

Arizona dug deep to make one more charge as Jackson knocked down a trey, then Reiko Thomas stole the ball and set up Soana Lucet for a lay-up. Arizona had another chance to tie the game when Whyte was fouled with 15.2 seconds to play, but she made just 1-of-2 free throws.

Briana Gilbreath avoided getting fouled and converted a lay-up with 8.1 seconds left to put USC on top by three. Forced to shoot from beyond the arc, Thomas hoisted a final attempt that missed the mark.

Corral led the way for USC (8-5, 2-0 Pac-10) with 27 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals while hitting 5-of-12 three-point attempts. Oliver came off the bench to toss in 19 points while Hailey Dunham tallied 12 points and Gilbreath added 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Whyte was one three-pointer shy of a school record, hitting 6-of-10 attempts from distance. Ify Ibekwe finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds while Soana Lucet had 8 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.

Arizona (6-6, 0-2 Pac-10) will look for its first Pac-10 win on Thursday, January 7 in a visit to Washington State with tip-off set for 6:00 p.m.

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