USC leading scorer Ariya Crook left the court with a hamstring injury 46 seconds into the game and did not return. But it didn't matter as a smothering Trojans' defense shut down Arielle Roberson and the No. 12 Colorado Buffaloes in a 55-45 upset victory at the Galen Center Friday night.
USC 55, No. 12 Colorado 45
- When Cassie Harberts walked into the press conference room, she took a look at the stat sheet. "Pfft...one rebound," she mumbled to herself. Though she finished with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting, it was falling one rebound shy of her fourth double-double in the last six games that had her attention. After struggling to get going early in the season, Harberts is playing at a high level at the right time. She has now scored in double figures in nine consecutive games and grabbed at least seven rebounds in the last six games.
Brianna Barrett played a season-high 30 minutes in the absence of Ariya Crook. Barrett controlled the offense and had a really big bucket to give USC a two-possession lead with 48 seconds remaining.
USC bookended well. The Women of Troy opened the game with a 9-0 lead as they took Colorado 6:15 before it made its first basket. The Buffaloes clawed back into the game with the assistance of a 10-0 run when the Trojans went cold for over five minutes late in the first half. After a back-and-forth second half, the Trojans pulled away late by clamping down on defense. Like the beginning of the game, Colorado couldn't buy a bucket, going the final 4:34 without a field goal. USC scored the final 13 points of the game.
- Along with Crook, who left at the first possible opportunity for substitution, the Women of Troy also played the game without starter Kiki Alofaituli. Alofaituli played a season-high 26 minutes against UCLA, but did not dress out Friday night.
Without Crook in the lineup, there was a noticeable lack of off-the-dribble playmaking. Barrett did a nice job filling in, but the Trojans need Jordan Adams to be more aggressive. Cooper-Dyke chose not to play Adams down the stretch -- giving her only one minute of PT in the second half.
"Colorado was playing such aggressive defense. We needed some guards in there that were going to break down their defense as they came to play close, aggressive and got all up in us," Cooper-Dyke said. "I thought [Adams] was a little tentative tonight."
She went on to say they are actively attempting to get the former high school All-American to be more attack-minded rather than always thinking pass first.
- Two games removed from scoring a season-high 89 points, USC slugged it out with the No. 12 team in the country in a low-scoring affair. The Trojans held a Buffaloes squad that entered averaging 77 points more than 30 points below that average. Colorado's leading scorer, Arielle Roberson, was held to four points on 2-of-10 shooting before she fouled out in the final minute.
Part of USC's defensive effort was the block party happening in the paint. The Women of Troy doubled their previous season high for block shots in a game, swatting away 10 of Colorado's attempts. Vaioletama led the way with four rejections while Adams had three.
The Trojans are now 2-0 in conference play with a win on the road at rival UCLA and a big home win over a ranked Colorado squad that was picked to finish third in the Pac-12 preseason poll.
USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and seniors Cassie Harberts and Desiree Bradley talk after the Trojans' 55-45 win over No. 12 Colorado at the Galen Center:
- There were 6 ties and 10 lead changes in the game.
- For the second straight home game, USC surrendered a double-digit lead only to pull away at the end.
- Cassie Harberts is now No. 12 on USC's all-time scoring list with 1,498 points, surpassing Shay Murphy (1,492). Next up on the list is former teammate Ashley Corral, who finished her career with 1,542 points.
- The Women of Troy are now 9-3 when outrebounding their opponent this season. They are 6-0 when they have fewer turnovers than the opposition
- USC looks to continue its four-game winning streak and improve to 3-0 in Pac-12 play on Sunday when the Women of Troy face Utah (7-5) at the Galen Center at 4 p.m.