USC senior guard Desiree Bradley is a shooter. Like most shooters, she is ready to fire as soon as the ball touches her hands.
But with Bradley coming off the bench, first-year head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has been trying to get Bradley to ease her way into the flow of the game. Cooper-Dyke wants her to break a sweat before breaking out her shot.
"She's wanted me to get up and down the court a little bit before I just shoot," Bradley said. "Getting my feel of the game before I just go shoot it."
When Bradley first entered Saturday afternoon's game at the Galen Center, the Women of Troy (7-5) trailed Long Beach State 5-4 barely over three minutes into the game. To get into the rhythm of the game, Bradley found Alexyz Vaioletama for a short jumper on her first possession. On the defensive end of the subsequent possession, she caused a turnover, stealing the ball away from Raven Benton near half court and took it the distance for an easy layup.
"I've never even done that," Bradley said. "I was excited for myself because I just came in and could provide a spark for my team, so it's cool."
Thirty seconds after subbing in, Bradley had two points, an assist and a steal without taking a jump shot and the Women of Troy never trailed again as that started a 14-0 run. USC pulled away in the final five minutes to take an 89-72 victory over Long Beach State (7-6) Saturday afternoon at the Galen Center.
Bradley said she's been trying to "bring energy and be a spark off the bench."
"That's pretty much what I've done the last couple of games and I wanted to keep it going. Any way that I could help, I was trying to do that."
It was nearly three minutes after Bradley entered that she attempted a jumper. She missed, but Vaioletama grabbed one of USC's 17 offensive rebounds and when Bradley got a second attempt on the possession, she swished a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Bradley finished with a career-high 14 points, knocking down four of her eight three-point attempts while playing a career-high 24 minutes.
USC 89, Long Beach State 72
- Cassie Harberts looked like 2012-13 Cassie Harberts again. She dominated the paint for the Women of Troy in her best performance of the season. Harberts had a season-high 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds for her third double-double in the last four games. She also lived off free throws much like she did last year, getting to the line for 11 attempts.
In the final 5:20, Harberts took over and put the game out of reach for the 49ers. In a three-minute span, she scored nine points, grabbed two rebounds, blocked a shot and had a steal. USC's lead increased from 6 to 16.
Redshirt sophomore Deanna Calhoun only played seven minutes, but she made a strong impact in that time. She made her only field goal attempt, made both her free throw attempts, grabbed a rebound and blocked a pair of shots.
USC was stronger than Long Beach State on the boards 37-24, on fast breaks 14-2, in the paint 44-34 and on second-chance points 17-9.
- USC still turned the ball over too much -- giving it away 16 times. The Trojans still had an assist-to-turnover ratio greater than 1:1 and forced more turnovers than committed, but 16 is too many if they want to compete in the Pac-12.
Starter Kiki Alofaituli was the odd woman out with Bradley playing well. She didn't help herself out by turning the ball over three times in only 12 minutes.
After disagreeing with a foul called against her while rebounding on the offensive end, Alabama transfer Kaneisha Horn took out her frustration on the defensive end when Benton slashed into the lane to try a layup. Horn took an aggressive hack sending Benton flailing to the floor. During a media timeout, the play was examined and an initial foul against Horn was upgraded to a flagrant foul.
USC built an 18-point lead in the first half, but Long Beach State finished the half on an 18-6 run to trim the halftime lead to six points. The Trojans' cushion stayed at 4-8 points for the majority of the time in the second half before USC pulled away in the last five minutes.
- The Women of Troy scored a season-high 89 points. They pushed the tempo throughout the game, especially when Brianna Barrett was in the lineup. The sophomore point guard finished with 11 points, 6 assists (with no turnovers) and 3 steals.
"When we push the ball, it just creates so many more offensive opportunities for us," Cooper-Dyke said. "We also don't worry about what half-court defense they're in because they're in transition defense. We already know. They have to match up to us."
USC shot 50 percent from the field (31-for-62) and 81.5 percent from the free throw line (22-for-27).
Five Trojans finished in double figures with Harberts' 24 leading the way, followed by Ariya Crook with 17, Bradley with 14 and Barrett and Vaioletama finishing with 11 and 10 points.
Hear head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and senior guard Desiree Bradley's post-game thoughts:
- Former Trojans Christina Marinacci and Kari LaPlante were in attendance. While Marinacci enjoyed the game from the stands, LaPlante is an assistant coach with the 49ers.
- Long Beach State's Raven Benton led all scorers with 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting. She had more than half of the 49ers points in the first half (17 of 33).
- Cassie Harberts is now two points behind Joni Easterly (1990-93) for No. 13 on USC's all-time scoring list.
- Long Beach State's women scored the same number of points as their men's squad did against USC last Thursday night. However, the 49er men won a nail biter 72-71 at Walter Pyramid.
- USC opens Pac-12 play Monday night at 7 p.m. across town at Pauley Pavilion against rival UCLA (6-6).