HUSKIES LOSE: Mentioned it at halftime and turnovers continued to wag its ugly head after the break, prompting a 62-55 loss to USC on Thursday. The Trojans helped force 19 UW miscues, which USC converted into 27 points. Ball. Game. Marinacci played like a rock star, scoring a game-high 19 points with 12 boards and four steals for the Trojans. A-Dub had a key turnover with 42 seconds left and the Huskies down three. Marinacci collected the ball and after Wetmore committed a foul, Corral made the two FTs to extend the lead. Mo-Will had a pretty reverse layin as a response, but Wetmore missed two shots and USC connected on four more FTs to seal the win. USC has won five consecutive games and is still more entertaining than Oklahoma in terms of tournament berths. But the Trojans know winning is the only way into the NCAA party. USC remains third in Pac-12 standings, closing its season at Washington State on Saturday. The Cougs defeated UCLA to snap its own seven-game losing streak. If USC (17-11, 11-6) can remain among the top four slots, it’ll get a first-round bye to rest its injury-riddled team. “We say it every game, but it was the most important game of the season,” said Corral of the UW win. She finished with nine points and three assists. “We knew we were going to come in here and it was going to be a battle until the end and it was. It was a great game.” UW (15-12, 7-10) was led by Davis’ 18 points while Rogers added 11 and eight rebounds. The Huskies, which dropped to a three-way tie for seventh place with Oregon and Utah in conference standings, host UCLA on Saturday.
BREAK TIME: Shutting it down to write the newspaper version of the game. Davis nailed another jumper but USC hit two FTs to remain close. It’s 49-48 UW with 6:30 left in the game. I’ll be back later to wrap it up.
RALLY DAWGS: The Dawgs are barking in a good way at Hec Ed. They’re taking better care of the ball, making better decisions on passes and getting key buckets to drop. A modest 4-0 spurt has UW up 47-43 with 7:46 on the clock. Davis leads with 14 points. On the other side of the ball, USC had two big turnovers and freshman Ariya Crook had her shot blocked by A-Dub to halt their offense.
TRICK SHOTS: Wetmore and Davis are showing off in the paint, scoring on surprising plays to tie the score at 39 points apiece. Mo-Will had a nice block, but USC regained possession and Briana Gilbreath nailed a three-pointer to help keep the Trojans ahead.
GETTING CLOSE: Barlow had a nice driving layin while Rogers display back-to-back spin moves to the hoop to help inch UW within 38-35 with 15:23 remaining in the game. Too bad some stellar defense isn’t part of that. Marinacci is whipping around Rogers faster than a Ferrari around a corner to get her own layins and taking advantage of her opponent wanting to stay out of foul trouble, grabbing an open rebound for a textbook putback.
ROGERS STARTS: Rogers started the second half despite the foul trouble. UW is down 34-29 with 17:18 left in the game. Over in Pullman, WSU is up 50-31 after the break.
HALFTIME: After UW took its brief lead, USC went on a 19-8 run to build a 34-25 advantage at the break. Part of the issue is the Trojans don’t have to deal with Rogers (three) and Williams (two) due to foul trouble. It’s given freshman A-Dub more minutes (13) in the half, but USC has scored 18 points off 11 UW turnovers and are pushing the home team around in the paint to outscore the Huskies 18-8 inside. Everyone coach Michael Cooper has put in the game has scored, the Trojans bench outscoring UW’s 12-3 in the first half. Marinacci and Desiree Bradley lead with six points apiece. Corral has five with three assists. Davis has six points for UW, Rogers leading on the boards (four). UW is going to need her back on the floor and to generate more movement on offense. It’ll also have to take better control of the ball or see its own goals dashed behind sloppy play.
SCOREBOARD: Oregon State’s hold on the fourth and final opening-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament took a hit Thursday, losing to Utah 63-56 in overtime. In a twist, UCLA is down 39-23 at the half to Washington State. In Seattle, UW trails USC 32-25 with 1:00 left in the half.
THIRD HIT: There was some arm contact, but Hec Ed is feeling a little salty after Rogers’ second block attempt of the game was ruled a foul. The play agaist Briana Gilbreath was after a powerful block on Marinacci in the paint. McGuff sat his center with 4:18 on the clock and it’s doubtful she’ll return this half. Given the importance of her and the matchup, I’m wondering if she’ll even start the second half. USC is up 29-23 with 3:33 left in the first half.
SIT DOWN: And Mo-Will was called for her second foul, pulling her from the lineup. UW is down 22-19 with 7:30 remaining in the first half.
GETTING TESTY: Harberts and Rogers are getting testy inside as USC intensifies its defense to regain control of the game. Officials haven’t called any warnings or fouls…wait, Stevens just tagged Rogers for her second. McGuff had to take her out of the game. Score is tied at 19 points apiece.
TRE BIEN: Well, the switch up worked. Mo-Will got an assist and a steal while A-Dub nailed a three-pointer with 11:53 on the clock to give UW its first lead of the game at 17-15. USC called time as the sparse crowd begged for free T-shirts from cheerleaders. UW is shooting 50 percent from the field.
LINEUP CHANGE: Perhaps to get some life on the court defensively, UW coach Kevin McGuff has put in reserves Mollie Williams and Aminah Williams. The game has picked up its pace and UW is within 10-8 with 14:55 to play in the half.
STAGNANT PLAY: After an energetic pregame, play has actually fallen flat. USC is starting to pick up its defense, crowding Rogers and grabbing rebounds to get transition buckets. But UW isn’t moving the ball and hasn’t gotten dirty yet on D. USC is up 8-5 with 16:06 on the clock.
It’s a big night in Pac-12 hoops. Posh seedings for next week’s tournament are up for grabs and it’s not lost on the players. Washington (15-11, 7-9) doesn’t have a chance to steal one of the four opening-round byes, but it could help determine whether visiting Southern California (16-11, 10-6) does along with improving its own standing.
USC is currently third and on a four-game win streak. The Trojans lost to the Huksies 67-61 in February, however. PG Jazmine Davis had a team-high 26 points and senior F Mollie Williams added 11 boards.
If UW were to get the season sweep, it would be a first since 2003. Washington has not won at home against USC since 2008.
The Huskies are an impressive 10-4 at Hec Ed. But adding drama that could tip the emotions toward the Trojans is it being senior PG Ashley Corral’s final college game in her home state. The 2008 McDonald’s All-American was born in Vancouver, WA and attended Prairie HS just outside the city limits. All of her family won’t be in attendance due to her younger sister, a UW signee, playing in the state tournament in Tacoma on Thursday.
Corral could be back in Washington as a possible Storm training camp invitee or if the Trojans sneak into the NCAA tournament backdoor with a solid regular-season finish and good conference tournament run. Spokane is a first and second round host site, again. It still all starts with Thursday night and how USC plays against UW.
Will the Huskies continue to add to the wild parity in NCAA women’s hoops this season? Let’s see, beginning with your starting lineups:
F Stefanie Gilbreath
F Christina Marinacci
C Cassie Harberts
G Ashley Corral
G Briana Gilbreath
F Charmaine Barlow
F Mackenzie Argens
C Regina Rogers
G Jazmine Davis
G Mercedes Wetmore
Tonight’s officials are Marianne Karp, Clarke Stevens, and Kenneth Nash.