Composure Carries USC Past UCLA 70-63

Jan. 17, 2010

Box Score

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team locked things down from the free-throw line to pocket a 70-63 comeback win over visiting crosstown rival UCLA on Sunday afternoon at the Galen Center. The Trojans were 24-of-27 from the line in the game, while the Bruins shot made just 9-of-20 down the stretch to help USC emerge with the Pac-10 win. Perfect on free throws, USC's Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath led all with 24 and 19 points, respectively. The win improves USC's record to 10-6 overall and 4-1 in Pac-10 play, while UCLA goes to 10-6, 3-2.

USC trailed by as seven as the teams crossed the 10-minute mark of the second half before kicking into gear and making its comeback push. A three from Corral tied it at 7:15, and although UCLA got a one-point lead soon after, Corral free throws gave the Women of Troy the lead for good with 6:32 remaining.

Despite a lukewarm offensive outing by the Trojans in the first half, USC trailed UCLA by just a single point at halftime. In a foul-filled first half, USC went 10-of-12 from the free-throw line to beat out UCLA's 6-of-11 effort. The Bruins were shooting 42 percent from the floor and were out-rebounding the Trojans 22-13 by halftime, but USC was able to force 11 UCLA turnovers to help counter the Trojans' 29-percent first-half shooting outing. An improved effort from the Trojans saw USC finish out the game shooting 36 percent - still behind the Bruins' 43 percent. UCLA won out on the boards down the stretch as well, with a 36-29 lead, but it was Trojan composure at the free-throw line that helped anchor the USC comeback effort. Aarika Hughes joined Corral and Gilbreath in double figures with 12 points. UCLA had three finish in double figures, led by 14 from Erica Tukiainen along with 13 from Darxin Morris and a double-double from Markel Walker with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Bruins.

Fouls stalled things during the first half as the teams were both in bonus after 10 minutes of play. USC had a 13-12 lead on a three-point play from Kari LaPlante at 11:40, but the Trojans slipped into a scoring slump that saw just one field goal fall during the next five minutes. Meanwhile, UCLA worked ahead 25-17 with 7 minutes to go before Ashley Corral finished off a three-point play of her own to make it 25-20 UCLA at 6:44.The Bruins were shooting at a 47-percent clip to that point to lead the Trojans' 30-percent mark from the floor. UCLA generated extra opportunities thanks to extra efforts on the boards and moved ahead 31-24 on scores in the paint with 2:51 on the clock. USC made good on trips to the line from Christina Marinacci and Briana Gilbreath to make it 31-28 UCLA with 2:28 to go in the half. If not for a single free-throw hit by the Bruins at 1:53, Heather Oliver's clutch three with 45 seconds to go would have it tied for halftime, as the Bruins side-stepped a late three try from Corral to keep UCLA ahead 32-31 at the half.

USC's first lead since the 11:40 mark of the first half came at 16:31 in the second, and the Trojans took their largest lead of the game at 14:25, up 44-40 after a 3-pointer from Aarika Hughes. Back-to-back Bruin threes pulled UCLA back on top, but Hughes buried another on USC's next trip down. After a lockup at 49-49 at 11:25, UCLA generated a 7-0 run to move ahead 56-49 at the 10-minute mark. Corral took a charge against a Bruin breakaway, and then USC got the front end of free-throws from Hailey Dunham and Gilbreath put back the miss and was fouled to help get USC back in the race, down 56-53 with 8:20 to go. Both teams were shooting at a 50-percent clip in the half to that point, and Corral got it locked up again with a three at 7:15. She would put USC on top under a minute later with a set of free throws as USC settled in and stayed ahead the rest of the way. UCLA got to within one twice in the last five minutes but also went 0-for-3 from the free-throw line down that stretch. After the Bruins missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, Corral drained a long two. Darxia Morris struck next to make it 62-61 with 1:55 remaining, only to have Gilbreath nail a jumper. The USC defense forced a shotclock violation by the Bruins on their next trip down, and Corral followed that up by staying perfect from the line to get USC ahead 66-61 with 41 seconds left. UCLA's Jasmine Dixon missed both her free-throw tries next, but Markel Walker got the putback to make it 66-63 USC with 22 seconds to go. UCLA sent Gilbreath and then Hughes to the line in the remaining time, and both Women of Troy drained their shots to finish out the game with a 70-63 USC victory.

USC now turns to take a trip north, paying a visit to Washington in a 7 p.m. game on Thursday (Jan. 21) and then playing at Washington State at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 23).

Briana Gilbreath went a career-best 9-for-9 (1.000) from the free-throw line and tied her career high of six assists.
Christina Marinacci had a career-high two blocks.

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