USC has made a living making second-half comebacks and coming up with big stops down the stretch in Pac-12 play this season. But the Women of Troy (14-8, 7-3) couldn't repeat the recipe against Washington State Friday night at the Galen Center.
"We weren't focused and didn't have the intensity to compete at this level in this conference," USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said.
The Cougars (12-9, 6-3) opened up a nine-point lead in the first half that grew to 12 points in the second half. USC battled back, but Washington State finished strong, ending the game on a 10-4 run to snap a three-game losing streak with a 79-75 win.
"Washington State came in and just jumped on us, jumped on us with their intensity," Cooper-Dyke said. "I thought we backpedaled the entire game and didn't play well."
Tia Presley led five Washington State players that scored in double figures. Presley had 21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Dawnyelle Awa finished with 12, including a pair of big buckets in the final 1:03. Shalie Dheensaw scored 11 points while Lia Galdeira and Taylor Edmonson each had 10.
Cassie Harberts recorded her seventh double-double of the season -- her 24th of her career, but it wasn't enough as the Women of Troy couldn't overcome 21 turnovers.
"In the crucial moments of the game, we couldn't execute," Cooper-Dyke said.
Washington State 79, USC 75
- Harberts was a beast down low. She made 10 of her 14 shots from the field, finishing with 24 points. She grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked two shots and grabbed two steals. Harberts also kept the Washington State post players in foul trouble throughout the game.
Ariya Crook was benched in the first half, but played with a lot of fire in the second half. She didn't attempt a shot in the first half, but finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block.
Brianna Barrett also played well in the second half and was a key factor in USC rallying from a 12-point deficit. After having six points and three turnovers in the first half, Barrett took it upon herself (with the not-so-subtle advice of her coach) to attack the basket late in the contest. She finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and only had a single second-half turnover.
- Starters Kiki Alofaituli, Jordan Adams and Ariya Crook combined to play 17 minutes in the first half. While Alofaituli and Adams occasionally sit for long stretches, Crook's time on the bench was obviously a coach's decision based on something Crook did wrong. What did she do or not do?
"I'll keep that in house," Cooper-Dyke said. "At the end of the day, we're a team. We play as a team. We might make mistakes, but we pick each other up and lean on each other in the tough times."
"We had a miscommunication today, but we'll fix it tomorrow in practice."
- USC turned the ball over 21 times, including 15 times in a first half that was sloppy for both teams (27 combined turnovers to 24 combined field goals).
According to the final play-by-play sheet, the Trojans missed 17 layups! Some were in traffic, but there were also several that were basically wide open. It's tough to win any game when you miss 17 layups.
USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and senior Cassie Harberts discuss the Trojans' disappointing 79-75 loss to Washington State at the Galen Center:
- USC is now 4-7 when it has more turnovers than the opposition.
- Washington State got its first win over USC in regular season play at the Galen Center since 2010.
- The USC bench outscored Washington State's bench, 28-20.
- Jordan Adams tied her career high with six assists.
- Friday night's loss was only the second for the Trojans when they score more than 70 points.
USC has now lost two in a row after winning nine of its previous 10.
- The Trojans (7-3) dropped to third in the Pac-12 standings, a half-game behind No. 15 Arizona State (7-2).
- The Women of Troy next play Washington (10-9, 3-5) on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. PST.