USC: Women of Troy

USC women upset No. 19 ASU with furious late-game run

January, 2, 2010
1/02/10
8:38
PM PT
On the strength of four Heather Oliver three-pointers down the stretch, the Women of Troy managed to do something on the first day of 2010 they hadn't done since 2003: beat Arizona State, at Arizona State.

USC (7-5) had last won in Tempe in January of '03 before coming from behind to upset the Sun Devils today, 60-56, before 2,412 at Wells Fargo Arena.

With five minutes remaining, No. 19 ASU (8-4) appeared to hold a clamp on the game with a 53-44 lead, but Oliver proceeded to knock down three consecutive threes to close the gap to 56-53 with 1:35 left.

From there, leading scorer Briana Gilbreath (16 points on 5-of-11 shooting) proceeded to knock down two free throws and produce a lay-up off a steal to give USC a 57-56 lead. Three free throws from point guard Ashley Corral sealed the win for the Women of Troy in their Pac-10 opener.

"It was a very, very, exciting finish,” Oliver said in a postgame phone interview, her words nearly drowned out by whoops in the background.

The statistics don't really add up. The Sun Devils outshot (47 percent to 40), out-rebounded (40 to 28) and out-assisted (20 to 11) the Women of Troy by significant margins, but — somehow, some way — USC came away with the victory.

"We just started doing everything right," Gilbreath said.

Arizona State was the third ranked opponent USC has beaten this season; all three have come away from home. Gilbreath said Friday it was "the best feeling" to quiet the rowdy Sun Devil crowd late in the game.

But USC must put the upset behind them and look east to Tucson, where they will take on Arizona at 2 p.m. MT Sunday.

"The next game's already started for us," Gilbreath said. "We have to be focused. A lot of times after big wins, teams let their collective guards down, so it's important for us to maintain that focus."

USC women fall to NC State, 59-53

December, 30, 2009
12/30/09
10:11
PM PT
With students home for winter break and the university essentially shut down for the week, the sleepy Galen Center played host to a non-conference battle between the Women of Troy and North Carolina State Wednesday night.

With an announced crowd of 854, not a soul sat in the upper bowl of the arena.

Men's basketball players Dwight Lewis, Leonard Washington, Nikola Vucevic and Marcus Simmons took up residence near the court, typing on their cell phones. And down in the training room, men's head coach Kevin O'Neill worked out on an elliptical just as the game was about to tip off.

For their part, the Women of Troy came out sluggish and never quite woke up. USC (6-5) scored a season-low 19 points in the first half, falling behind by 14 points, and went on to lose to the visiting Wolfpack, 59-53.

Point guard Ashley Corral shot 1-of-12 from the field as USC converted just 32 percent of its shot attempts on the night. Guard Briana Gilbreath came out firing with eight straight points to begin the half, but it wasn't enough, as N.C. State managed to keep USC at a safe distance until late in the game.

With five minutes left to play, the Women of Troy began to put together a mini-run, capped by a Daniela Roark lay-in to close the gap to 54-53 with two minutes left. But N.C. State guard Nikitta Gartrell — who freely penetrated into the lane all night — drove into the the key, nailed the lay-up, drew a foul and converted the free-throw attempt.

USC had a few more chances but couldn't convert on two one-and-ones, and N.C. State guard Amber White hit two free throws to clinch the victory. White led the Wolfpack (9-5) with 17 points and two assists.

"[You hate] to lose a game like that, where you're so close," Corral said afterward. "It wasn't our night out there today. It just wasn't our night."

No, but it was USC's final tuneup before Pac-10 conference play, which starts on New Year's Day with a 1:00 p.m. battle with Arizona State in Tempe.

The Women of Troy have only a few short hours to rest before boarding an early-morning flight Thursday morning to the Grand Canyon State.

USC head coach Michael Cooper said he wasn't worried. He suggested the physical style of N.C. State was similar to what his team would see out of the Sun Devils Friday, and he felt his team would now be better prepared.

"Hey, I thought our second half was a lot better," Cooper said as he mopped his brow after the game Wednesday. "We have a lot of potential that we're trying to learn how to utilize, and that will come."

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