USC Women Break Through, Top Washington 56-51

Feb. 20, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team put a stop to a tough losing skid by breaking through with a 56-51 win over visiting Washington on Saturday night at the Galen Center. After a stretch of five losses, the Trojans still struggled a bit on the offensive end, but got things done with all nine Trojans on the floor scoring in the game as USC wrapped up a successful comeback after trailing by six during the second half. Jacki Gemelos led the way in her first Trojan win, scoring 13 points for USC to help snap the slump and improve the Women of Troy to 14-11 overall and 8-6 in Pac-10 play. Washington goes to 9-16, 4-11.

USC led at the half for the first time in the past four games thanks to a somewhat improved shooting effort in the first half. Seven different Women of Troy had scored by halftime, with USC shooting 35 percent in the half to lead Washington 28-22 by halftime. The Huskies shot 30 percent in the first half, while USC led 21-16 on the boards. Hurting the Trojans in the first half was a poor free-throw effort as USC was barely above 50 percent from the line (8-of-15). Free throws were not USC's forte in the game as the Trojans missed 11 in the game but got points where they needed it to pull out the win. Washington was ahead of USC in shooting 42 percent from the floor, ahead of USC's 34 percent. USC outrebounded Washington 36-30 in the game with Briana Gilbreath coming in just a rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Jacki Gemelos led USC in scoring in her first win as a Trojans, scoring 13 points, while Kari LaPlante also hit double digits with 10 points. Washington got 15 from Kristi Kingma and 10 from Christina Rozier.

Ashley Corral opened the game by serving up assists on USC's first three buckets as the Trojans took a 6-3 lead after Washington hit a three to open the game. Washington snagged a slim 8-7 lead, but Husky fouls sent the Trojans to the line to edge ahead 11-8 before Jacki Gemelos and Heather Oliver wrapped threes around a Washington basket to carry USC ahead 17-10 with 9:30 on the clock. The Trojans and the Huskies traded baskets for the next six minutes before Briana Gilbreath hit the back end of her free throws to make it 24-16 USC. Kristi Kingma nailed a three on Washington's next trip down, however, giving her 12 points in the half and bringing it back to a five-point game with 3:30 to go in the half. Gemelos followed with a flashy take to the hole that beat the shot-clock buzzer to make it 26-19 USC entering the final two minutes of the half. Trojan turnovers and Husky free throws cut USC's lead to four on the way into the final minute with a block by Gilbreath setting USC up for the last possession of the half. Gilbreath got a trip to the line with 24 seconds to go and she hit both for USC before a Washington miss on its last shot of the half to get USC a 28-22 halftime lead.

Corral became the eighth Trojan to score when she knocked down a three at 17:20 to make it 31-25 USC. The Trojans matched their largest lead of the game on a jumper from Kari LaPlante at 14:45 that made it 35-27 USC, but Washington made a 6-1 run to cut to three at 12:45. Two minutes later, the Huskies were back on top for the first time since the first five minutes of the game. Back-to-back Husky threes and a score off a Trojan turnover carried Washington ahead 41-38 on the way into the final 10 minutes of regulation. Washington drained another three next to put USC behind 44-38 before the Trojans rallied back into a tie. Gilbreath hit a single free throw before Daniela Roark got her first points on the night with a key three that made it a two-point game. Roark was off on her next try, but Gilbreath was there for the putback to tie 44-44 with 7:25 on the clock. A long Gemelos three at 6:25 got USC back on top with a slim 47-46 advantage a minute later, and she would drain both free throws - a first for any Trojan in the game - at 5:22 to make it 49-46 USC. In the next minute, Gemelos would find LaPlante for a score in the paint ahead of the shot clock to help USC to a 51-46 lead. However, Washington's Sami Whitcomb's first points of the game pulled things back into a tie at 51-51 with 2:40 to go. LaPlante hit the front end of her free throws with 1:21 to go, and sank a baseline jumper with 22 seconds on the clock to edge USC ahead 54-51. Washington called a timeout as it set up for its next possession but turned the ball over as Corral ran it down and was fouled hard on her layup try to go to the line with 3.2 ticks to go. She hit both, and USC's losing streak was officially over as the Trojans pulled out the 56-51 victory over the Huskies.

USC now turns to take a Pac-10 trip through Oregon. The Trojans will visit Oregon at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 25) and then face Oregon State at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 27).

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