2018 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament: USC squeaks by WSU, 47-44
USC needed this win. You could see it in the way the Trojans played Thursday night at KeyArena in Seattle.
The program is projected by ESPN women’s bracketologist Charlie Creme to be a 10-seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, giving the Trojans very little wiggle room if they want their first invite to the Big Dance since 2014. The Trojans got one step closer to that bid following their 47-44 win over 10th-seeded Washington State in the first round of the 2018 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament.
USC pounded the paint the entire game, collecting 32 of its 47 points near the basket.
Aliyah Mazyck and Minyon Moore did the heavy lifting on offense for the Trojans, contributing 16 and 14 points, respectively. Mazyck assisted Moore on the game-sealing layup as the final seconds ticked off the game clock. Kristen Simon added eight points and 11 rebounds.
Washington State forward Nike McClure posted a team-leading 12 points, followed by nine from fellow forward Borislava Hristova, who played on a hurt ankle from a previous injury.
After a slow first half in which both teams suffered from forced shots and missed opportunities, the drama kicked in in the latter half. USC led the entire fourth period, but never by more than five points.
“Both teams really scrapped and hustled and went at it,” USC head coach Mark Trakh said in the postgame press conference. “We just happened to be three points better.”
Hristova — who’s aptly nicknamed Bobi Buckets for her scoring prowess — was quiet the majority of the game. But she came alive in the fourth quarter. In just under two minutes she scored five straight, inciting a timeout following a fast-break layup with 8:51 left in the game. WSU stayed within two possessions from then on, but never bypassed the Trojans.
“It’s crazy what a little bit of confidence can do to a team,” Mazyck said with a smile post-game. “We’ve got 20 wins. That’s crazy. Every time we step on the hardwood we’re going to give it our all.”
It was an emotional night for the Cougs before the game even started. WSU honored its three seniors in a makeshift Senior Day ceremony before the game since Washington State’s final home game on Sunday was canceled following the sudden death of longtime WSU strength coach David Lang.
“Really proud of the effort given everything that’s happened in the last week,” WSU’s Mike Daugherty said after the game, who is the program’s acting head coach while June Daugherty is out on indefinite medical leave. “I thought the team played with a lot of heart and a lot of emotion. Really couldn’t ask anything more out of these young ladies than what they gave today.”
USC’s tourney march continues Friday with No. 2-seeded Stanford at 6 p.m. on Pac-12 Network. The Cardinal has won nine of the past 11 conference tournaments, including last year’s.
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