TUCSON, Ariz. ?- In a thriller at McKale Center this evening, the Arizona women’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker, 73-72, to USC. With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 7-15 overall and 3-9 in the Pac-10.
Arizona shot 41 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 67 percent from the free throw line on the game. USC shot 43 percent from the field, 33 percent from beyond the arc and 57 percent from the charity stripe on the game. The Women of Troy out-rebounded the Wildcats 47 to 32.
“We played our hearts out tonight," Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. "I’m really disappointed with the loss, but really proud of the girls. There has been a lot of adversity that we have had to face, and we just keep pulling together improving as a team.”
“This was a tough loss, but there were a lot of positive things going on tonight," she continued. "We did a lot better shooting the second half and that’s when we got things done and back into the game.”
Senior Natalie Jones recorded her second-consecutive double-double, finishing with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Ashley Whisonant added 19 points and seven assists, while junior Joy Hollingsworth tallied 13 points. Freshman Kelsey Burns also finished with a career-high 11 points.
After USC scored the first basket of the game, Arizona went on an 18-2 run to take an 18-4 lead. During that time, the Wildcats held the Women of Troy scoreless for 8:09. USC then came alive from downtown, nailing five treys in just over five minutes. The Women of Troy then took the lead back at the 5:04 mark and went into the locker room at halftime up by six, 33-27.
Arizona shot 33 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 100 percent from the free throw line on the half. USC connected on 43 percent from the field and 41 percent from downtown. The Women of Troy edged the Cats on rebounds, 20 to 18, while Arizona won the turnover battle seven to eight. Jones led Arizona with 13 points and eight rebounds on the half.
In the second half, USC quickly extended its lead to 11 (43-32), but Arizona later used a 10-0 run to make it a one-point game, 45-44. The Women of Troy then rattled off six straight points to extend their lead back to seven, 51-44. The Wildcats cut it back to two, but USC quickly ran it back up to 10, 64-54.
The Women of Troy maintained their lead before Arizona scored 11 straight points to take its first lead (70-68) since the 5:29 mark of the first half. The Wildcats extended their lead to four (72-68), but USC scored five a row to snatch the lead back with 45 seconds left in the game. After both teams missed shots, Arizona had the ball with 18 seconds left. A Whisonant jumper fell short and USC grabbed the rebound to secure the win.
Arizona hosts UCLA for a 4 p.m. game this Saturday, Feb. 4.