Women of Troy Sweep Season Series With UCLA

The USC women's basketball team built a 22-point lead in the second half on its way to a series sweep of crosstown rival UCLA.

USC senior Desiree Bradley summed it up perfectly after the game:

"It's awesome. It always feels good just to beat UCLA just one time, but to beat them twice, it's amazing."

The USC Women of Troy (15-9, 8-4) dominated the UCLA Bruins, 68-54, at the Galen Center Saturday afternoon to snap a three-game losing streak and complete a regular season sweep of the Trojans' crosstown rival.

"It feels good to just knock them on out the way."

Senior forward Cassie Harberts came up one rebound shy of recording her third double-double in a row, finishing with 17 points and 9 rebounds. But the story of the game was the improved play of USC's guards.

"I thought the guards played great, especially on the defensive end," USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. "Our guard play was excellent on defense, which I think gave us a rhythm and a level of confidence on offense to knock down some shots."

USC 68, UCLA 54

The Good:

  • Kiki Alofaituli didn't even play last Sunday against Washington, registering a DNP-coaches decision, but she came up big against UCLA. Cooper-Dyke put the junior wing player back in the starting lineup and she responded with a strong 25-minute performance. 

    "I challenged Kiki to show up," Cooper-Dyke said. "I thought she showed up on the defensive end first. She really started playing tough and that's one of the things we count on her to do."

    She finished with eight points on 4-of-7 shooting, three assists, a rebound and a steal.

    "I put her back in the starting lineup to give her another opportunity to help us, to help herself and to show everyone what she could do."

  • After allowing a 14-2 run that trimmed USC's lead down to 10 points with 6:37 remaining, the Women of Troy responded by steadily pushing the lead back up to 17 points, starting with a big 3-pointer by Ariya Crook with the shot clock winding down.

  • The Trojans were atrocious from three-point land last weekend against Washington, making a season-worst 4-for-23. They were able to knock down some early outside shots to help open up the inside for Harberts to go to work. USC made three of its first five 3-pointers and finished 5-for-13. Freshman Courtney Jaco was 1-for-8 last game, but knocked down both her attempts against UCLA.

    "I put more trust into my technique," Jaco said. "I put up a lot of shots this last week and just stayed with my technique."

The Bad:

  • Harberts finished 3-for-9 from the free throw line. While it didn't hurt them USC in this game, he struggles at the charity stripe could come back to haunt the Women of Troy in the future. After shooting in the high 60 percents her first three seasons, including 69.5 percent last year, Harberts is now shooting only 55.8 percent from the line this year.

The Great:

  • Cassie Harberts continues to dominate down low for the Trojans. She finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, but that's not all she did. Harberts also added four assists, two steals and a block. When the outside shooters can make a couple of shots to open up some space, she can dominate a game with her arsenal of moves on the low block.

  • The defensive tenacity was turned up as the Trojans forced 15 turnovers, grabbing 12 steals -- after only having 27 in the last four games combined.

  • USC also took care of the ball better this game. After 37 turnovers in two games last weekend, the Women of Troy only had 13 versus UCLA. The Trojans had 18 assists for a +5 assist-to-turnover differential. It was only the fourth time USC has been +5 or better this season.

Interviews:

USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke is joined by guards Desiree Bradley and Courtney Jacoto talk about the Women of Troy's 68-54 blowout of rival UCLA Saturday afternoon at the Galen Center:

Notes:

  • USC is now 10-1 when it has less turnovers than the opposition.
  • With her 17 points, Cassie Harberts is now one point shy of tying Ebony Hoffman (2001-04) for eighth place on USC's career points list.
  • UCLA center Corinne Costa tied her career high with 7 blocks, which she has now done four times.
  • The Trojans (8-4) are now third in the Pac-12 standings, a half-game ahead of Cal (7-4).
  • The Women of Troy next play on Friday at Oregon (13-9, 4-7) with a scheduled tip time of 7:30 p.m. PST.

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