March 4, 2010
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Arizona erased a 15-point second half deficit, but a late three-pointer missed the mark, allowing host USC to claim a 55-53 win over the Wildcats, Thursday evening at the Galen Center.
After trailing 32-20 at the half and by 15 in the opening stages of the second half after a conventional three-point play by Kari LaPlante, Arizona worked its way back into the game and had a chance to win in the final moments.
Seven-straight points by Ify Ibekwe sparked the Wildcats back into the game after she missed most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls. Over a 13-minute stretch, Arizona turned around a 35-20 deficit into a 46-44 scoreline with 5:50 to play.
Back-to-back buckets by Christina Marinacci and Briana Gilbreath stretched the USC lead back to six points, but a three-pointer by Brooke Jackson and transition bucket by Soana Lucet brought Arizona within a point with 27 seconds to play.
Ashley Corral was fouled with 20 seconds to play, but missed the back end of her 1-and-1 opportunity. Following a timeout, Arizona worked the ball to Ibekwe at the top of the key. With the USC defense sagging, she kicked the ball to the right corner to Jackson for a three-pointer. Her shot missed the mark, but the rebound tipped around to Reiko Thomas. However, a pass intended for Ibekwe went straight to LaPlante for the last of 21 Arizona turnovers and time expired before the comeback could be complete.
Turnovers plagued the Wildcats in the first half as they committed 13 miscues that led to 12 points for the Women of Troy and several of their 12 fast break points.
Despite a considerable size disadvantage, Arizona still captured a 38-31 edge on the glass, including 13 offensive boards that led to 13 second chance points. The Cats also forced 11 turnovers in the second half that led to 15 points, but they were 13-of-20 from the free throw line for the game while USC hit 7-of-9 from the charity stripe.
Ibekwe led all scorers with 18 points, 16 of them coming in the second half after she sat all but five minutes of the opening stanza with two fouls. She also added 7 rebounds while hitting 6-of-12 shots. Davellyn Whyte added 12 points and 5 rebounds for the Wildcats.
LaPlante paced USC (17-11, 11-6) with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting while also tallying 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Gilbreath was the only other Trojans player in double figured with 10 points while Corral and Marinacci added 9 points apiece.
Arizona (13-15, 6-11) concludes the 2009-10 regular season on Saturday, March 6 with a visit to Pauley Pavilion to battle 25th-ranked UCLA at 12:30 p.m.