Sun Devil WBB falls to USC on buzzer-beater
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Sun Devil women's basketball team started the final weekend of regular season play dropping a nail biter to USC, 60-58 on Thursday night.
Jade Loville scored a game-high 22 points and Mael Gilles posted her fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds while also handing out a game-high six assists. Katelyn Levings had a career-high 12 rebounds in helping ASU win the battle of the boards 46-36.
The last of Gilles' 11 points came when the graduate post scored to give ASU a 58-57 lead with 15.2 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils (12-12, 4-8 Pac-12), USC's Alyson Miura answered with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Trojans the win.
"You have to play defense this time of year. And that's all we talked about going this game, just play 40 minutes defense and we just didn't do that," ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "We got out of our stance and we fouled too much…we just needed to be more consistent and more disciplined. It didn't come down that last play. There were plenty of plays before that where we didn't sit down in our stance and get our hands up.
"I'm just heartsick for our team. They are great kids. They really want to win, and I thought we played a little better together but we struggled to execute down the stretch with our offense and our defense."
This was the first meeting of the season between the two squads as the contest in Los Angeles did not happen earlier in the season due to Covid protocols.
Loville helped the Sun Devils get out to an early lead scoring six of ASU's 14 points in the opening quarter. On the opposite end, ASU locked down USC's offense as it allowed the Trojans to score only nine points while shooting a paltry 27 percent from the floor.
After ASU outscored the Trojans (12-14, 5-11) 14-9 over the first 10 minutes, USC came back with a 15-9 advantage in the second quarter to take a 24-23 lead at the half. USC connected on 40 percent of its shots in the second frame while the Sun Devils suddenly went cold, hitting only 19 percent of their attempts. Despite their shooting struggles, the Sun Devils still led 23-19 after a pair of free throws by Loville with 3:33 remaining. USC would go on to score the last five points of the half to take the slight edge into the locker room. Loville led all scorers with nine points and Levings added seven rebounds.
After Loville scored to give ASU a 30-26 advantage, neither led by more than three points over the last five-plus minutes of the third quarter.
The two teams went to the final period tied at 40-40. After USC scored the first field goal of the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils came back with their best offensive sequence of the game. Jaddan Simmons, who grabbed a career-high eight rebounds, started and finished a 9-0 run with three-point plays to give ASU its biggest lead of the game, 49-42 with 6:47 remaining.
The Sun Devils, who dressed only eight players for the game – Maggie Besselink has not played since Feb. 6, starting post Jayde Van Hyfte was injured last Friday at Washington State and top reserve guard Gabriela Bosquez was injured at Washington last Sunday – ASU tried to hold off USC's comeback. Not until there were 34 seconds remaining did the Trojans reclaim the lead, 57-56, setting the stage for the game's final two baskets.
"I think we had our opportunities to just get the stops and take the game and we did not quite do it," Turner Thorne said. "But credit USC. We just really want to come back and play our best basketball on Saturday."
The Sun Devils conclude the regular season on Saturday (12 pm MST) when they host UCLA. Saturday's game will be Senior Day. Following the contest, the program will honor graduate transfer Mael Gilles.