USC Outruns Oregon in the State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament

March 12, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- All the extra running first-year USC coach Michael Cooper had his players do in the preseason paid off when competing against high-octane Oregon.

Briana Gilbreath scored 19 points to lead the third-seeded Trojans past the sixth-seeded Ducks 80-76 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Conference tournament.

Ashley Corral had 16 points and Kari LaPlante 15 for the Trojans, who won their sixth straight.

The game resembled a track meet at times, with both teams pushing the ball incessantly.

'They were running and running and kept running,' Cooper said. 'It kind of took a toll on us in the first half, but we got our second wind and were able to come back.

'They're a team that you've got to put the track shoes on and come ready to play. We got after them, and they got after us.'

USC (19-11) will play the winner of the game between second-seeded UCLA and 10th-seeded Oregon State in the semifinals Saturday.

The Ducks pulled as close as 72-71 when Micaela Cocks made two free throws with 1:09 remaining. But Jacki Gemelos sank four free throws in the final 15 seconds to preserve the victory.

Taylor Lilley led the Ducks with 22 points. Victoria Kenyon had a career-high 18 points and Nia Jackson added 18 for Oregon (16-15), which has lost seven straight.

'I thought our team gave a terrific effort,' Oregon coach Paul Westhead said. 'We had a chance to win, and SC just made some big shots right in the last minute. That was the difference.'

The teams were tied six times and traded the lead 10 times during the seesaw battle.

USC freshman Christina Marinacci, who had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds, said the Trojans' preseason conditioning helped.

'When it comes to playing these types of teams, you really appreciate it,' Marinacci said. 'We had to run a 6-minute mile. I can't tell you how many (other sprints). It definitely paid off and made it worth it.'

Oregon led 64-59 with 9:13 remaining before USC went on a 12-3 run to pull ahead for good. Gilbreath scored eight points during that stretch and dominated the Ducks defensively.

'I saw our grit tonight,' Cooper said. 'When we got down by three or four or whatever, that's when I saw the real Trojan women step up.

'That's what I liked about it, our toughness and our grit enabling us to come back from that deficit.'

USC outrebounded Oregon 48-34 and scored 34 points in the paint.

Oregon shot 52.9 percent from 3-point range (9 of 17), setting a Pac-10 tournament record.

Lilley made four 3-pointers, moving into a tie for 10th place on the NCAA's single-season list with 112.

The teams were evenly matched from the start, with neither leading by more than five in the first half. But USC held a 39-34 halftime lead.

LaPlante scored 13 of her points in the first half on 6-of-6 shooting.

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