The Women of Troy showed just how explosive they can be on offense and defense Friday night, USC (12-6, 5-1) forced 30 Oregon State turnovers in an 81-60 victory at the Galen Center.
The Trojans got 22 points from Cassie Harberts, 15 points and 9 rebounds from Alexyz Vaioletama and finally got back to full-strength as Ariya Crook returned to the lineup from a hamstring injury.
Sydney Wiese and Deven Hunter led the Beavers (10-7, 2-3) with 11 points each, but combined for 13 turnovers.
USC 81, Oregon State 60
- After starting the game slowly, USC trailed 11-4, but came back with a 24-4 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a 13-point lead.
The Women of Troy took a 42-29 lead into halftime after shooting 47 percent from the field and only turning the ball over four times. They caused 15 Oregon State turnovers and held the Beavers leading scorer Jamie Weisner to just three first-half points on 1-of-5 shooting. But with 15 minutes to go the Beavers were able to trim the lead down to 49-42.
USC responded with an 11-0 run to push the lead to its biggest of the game at that point. Cassie Harberts had all six of her second half points during the run.
Ariya Crook played only 46 seconds against Colorado on Jan. 3 and missed the last three games after injuring her hamstring. But Crook brought the USC lineup back to full strength after Kiki Alofaituli returned against Arizona last game.
Crook got off to a slow start, scoring only three points on 1-of-5 shooting in the first half, but she found her rhythm in the final 20 minutes, finishing with 14 points. She knocked down four 3-pointers to take over 10th place on USC's all-time 3-pointers made list, passing Meghan Gnekow (2003-06).
Alexyz Vaioletama's ability to go inside and outside gives USC so many lineup options and creates matchup problems for the opposition. Vaioletama can put the ball on the deck and drive to the hoop or shoot it from deep -- even when her coach is yelling at her to penetrate as head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke was doing when Vaioletama swished a 3-pointer through the net in the second half (see 2:36 mark in post-game presser below).
- After turning the ball over only four times in the first half, USC had 10 turnovers in the second half.
Starting point guard Jordan Adams played only seven minutes and had three turnovers. She started each half but never game off the bench after being subbed out.
- According to Cooper-Dyke, star senior forward Harberts looked like the player that earned preseason accolades and had her name on award watch lists:
"Cassie's been double-teams. She's been pushed. [Opponents] have played very physical, so it's great to see Cassie be Cassie tonight. I mean she was Cassie."
Harberts showed the varied dimensions of her game with midrange jump shots, step-back jumpers, head fakes, step throughs and just about every post move shy of breaking out Hakeem Olajuwon's Dream Shake. Despite facing a 6'6" defender in Ruth Hamblin for most of the game, Harberts dominated the paint for the Women of Troy.
USC's defense was swarming all over the place, collecting 15 steals (4 each by reserve guards Desiree Bradley and Brianna Barrett) and forcing 30 turnovers. It has been a step-by-step work in progress throughout the year, but it looks like Cooper-Dyke is really molding the team into shape.
USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, senior Cassie Harberts and junior Alexyz Vaioletama talk after the Trojans' 80-61 win over Oregon State at the Galen Center:
- USC won the battle in the paint, 36-22.
- The Women of Troy scored 37 points off Oregon State's 30 turnovers.
- Cassie Harberts knocked her head coach out of the top 10 on USC's all-time scoring list. Harberts surpassed former teammate Ashley Corral (1,542) and Cooper (1,559) to take over the spot. Next on the list is another former teammate, Brianna Gilbreath, who finished with 1,608.
- The Women of Troy are now 7-1 when they have fewer turnovers than the opposition
- USC looks to continue its strong Pac-12 play on Sunday when the Women of Troy face Oregon (9-6, 0-4) at the Galen Center at 2 p.m.