Sun Devil WBB’s strong second half not enough in loss at USC
LOS ANGELES – The Arizona State women's basketball team was not able to come away with a win on its trip to Los Angeles after dropping its second contest of the weekend, 65-57 at USC on Sunday.
Similar to its 60-57 loss at No. 5 UCLA on Friday, the Sun Devils (8-6, 4-6 Pac-12) found themselves trying to overcome an early double-digit deficit after falling behind by as many as 21 points in the second quarter on Sunday.
Unlike Friday's contest in which ASU was able to fight back from an 18-point deficit and reclaim the lead, the Trojans (7-7, 5-6) would not allow ASU to get any closer than five points and that was not until the final minute of regulation.
ASU was led by freshman Jaddan Simmons (16 points) and junior Taya Hanson (12 points), who combined for 28 points. Senior Bre'yanna Sanders and sophomore Sydnei Caldwell came off the bench to add six points each for the Sun Devils, who connected on only 35 percent of their shots for the game.
Maggie Besselink tied her career-high with eight rebounds to help ASU finish with a plus-five advantage on the boards (34-29). Hanson, Simmons and junior Iris Mbulito added four rebounds apiece. Mbulito also led ASU with four assists while Katelyn Levings paced ASU in steals with two.
The Trojans shot 54 percent in the first half, including 73 percent from behind the arc where they scored 24 of their points over the first 20 minutes on their way to a 40-23 halftime lead.
Playing with a sense of urgency, the Sun Devils came out and scored the first seven points of the second half. Imogen Greenslade's layup cut USC's once 21-point lead to 10 a little more than three minutes into the third quarter.
The two teams played on fairly even terms for the remainder of the quarter. Mbulito's layup to beat the buzzer pulled ASU within eight going to the final frame.
Besselink's rebound and putback got ASU even closer, trimming USC's lead to 52-45 with 8:23 remaining. After a USC basket, Simmons once again got ASU within seven after scoring on a layup. USC responded with the next four points to once again take a double-digit lead, 58-47, with 3:44 remaining.
The Sun Devils continued to fight getting within five after a 3-pointer by Hanson with 1:06 left and again after two free throws by Simmons with 42 seconds left.
USC prevented ASU from ever making it a one-possession game as the Trojans three free throws in the final 39 seconds to seal the win.
The Sun Devils will remain on the road next week for games at No. 11 Oregon (Friday at 8 p.m. PST/9 p.m. MST) and at Oregon State (Sunday at 12 p.m. PST/1 p.m. MST). Both games can be seen on Pac-12 Networks and heard on KDUS AM 1060.