warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

USC Women's Basketball Falls To Gonzaga In Home Opener

Alexa Girkout |
November 11, 2012 | 7:40 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

USC's Cassie Harberts recorded a double-double in the loss. (Shotgun Spratling/NT)
USC's Cassie Harberts recorded a double-double in the loss. (Shotgun Spratling/NT)
It’s a new year for the USC women’s basketball team: fresh faces, new assistants and a new learning curve. With three incoming freshmen and the loss of some major senior presence on the court, there are bound to be some growing pains.

The first game of the season against Gonzaga could not have made that clearer.

In an exhibition game against CSU Montgomery Bay last Sunday, the Women of Troy debuted six players and dominated the second half, ultimately winning 73-45.

But that momentum did not carry over into their home opener against Gonzaga Sunday afternoon, in which the team fell 63-52. Last year, USC managed a 58-51 upset on the road against a Bulldogs team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament, but was outplayed in this year’s rematch.

"We know they're a tournament team. They've always been a tournament team," said junior forward Cassie Harberts. "We were prepared, but we just didn’t come out and execute what we had worked on."

The Women of Troy fell victim to early defensive pressure and sloppy ball handling (giving up 24 turnovers and allowing 10 steals) and could not overcome a double-digit deficit, despite outscoring the Bulldogs 30-26 in the second half.

"A lot of credit goes to their defense," said USC head coach Michael Cooper. "They pressured us, they had us second-guessing our passes, and when you do that you make those kinds of turnovers."

The Bulldogs silenced the USC offense for most of the first half, at one point containing the Women of Troy to two field goals and a pair of split free throws in an eight-minute span.

"We always dig a hole for ourselves and it's really hard to come back when they’re playing so much harder than us," said Harberts, who led the team with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The team found some energy after a layup by senior forward and team captain Christina Marinacci with seven minutes remaining on the clock in the first half, but Gonzaga continued to outperform USC.

The biggest Bulldogs lead was 22 points in the first half. Despite a late surge, the Women of Troy only ever came within nine points of Gonzaga.

The loss comes as proof that USC still needs to fine-tune its new players and redevelop itself as a team as it integrates its recent additions.

"It's a work in progress still. You just have to learn to live through it,” Cooper said. "Hopefully we can win some games while we’re still trying to make this happen and as long as we can do that and keep moving forward, I will feel successful."

The team sees the loss as a learning experience for returning players to work harder but also for new players to adapt quickly. 

"Starting in collegiate basketball games is a huge adjustment," Marinacci said. "[Freshmen Jordan Adams, Destinie Gibbs and Brianna Barrett] have to grow up and follow along and pick up things quicker than most freshmen but they’ll get it and I’m sure they’ll be fine."

As for the team’s overall weakness, both Marinacci and co-captain Harberts cite energy as one key area they need to fix.

"It’s just really hard for only two or three people to bring energy and have the whole rest of the team slack off," Harberts said. "We need to rally everybody and get them to play the game."

Marinacci said that despite their mistakes, the team knows what they have to work on; they have to push themselves to grow a lot in short amount of time.

Cooper told the team after the game that they have to do more than show up physically; they have to put in work and hustle on the court. 

“They did a lot of great things today and a lot of bad things but it’s about learning and moving forward,” Cooper said.

The Women of Troy look to bring those words to fruition at home against Pepperdine next Sunday.

Reach Staff Writer Alexa Girkout here. Follow her here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.