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Women Of Troy Split With Arizona Teams

Jodee Sullivan, Hailey Tucker |
February 22, 2015 | 9:43 p.m. PST

Staff Reporters

The Women of Troy finished their final stand at home against Arizona and No. 12 Arizona State, with an overwhelming win and an intense double-overtime loss, respectively.

Friday night, the Women of Troy took on the Arizona Wildcats and dished out their second-highest scoring performance of Pac-12 play this season as they won with a convincing 77-51 decision. USC shot 53% from the field, which was their best performance of Pac-12 play.  

The offensive charge was led by three freshmen.  Guard McKenzie Calvert had a 14-point effort including 8 straight for USC early in the first half.  Forward Kristen Simon contributed 12 points in addition to leading the team in rebounds with 9. The final freshman of the scoring trio was forward Amy Okonkwo with 11 points.  Senior forward Alexyz Vaioletama had 10 points; she was the fourth USC player to hit double figures. Also hitting a stride for the Women of Troy was Courtney Jaco who went 2-3 from behind the arc, finishing with 6 points. 

The Women of Troy shared the ball Friday night and it showed when they finished with 17 assists, led by Brianna Barrett with 6.  

They followed their beat down of Arizona with a loss to Arizona State, but it was an all-around effort and intense game.

It was the final home game of the season for the Women of Troy. They honored their two seniors: forward Kaneisha Horn and Vaioletama. The Galen Center was jam-packed with Trojan support: there were 2800 fans present to cheer on the team. 

It may have been a loss, but Head Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke was pleased with how her team battled against “a really good Arizona State team.”

“This was a great game for women’s basketball,” Cooper shared.

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Right from the start, the Women of Troy proved that they were ready to play with the Sun Devils. Horn scored the first basket of the game. 

There was such high intensity and back-to-back scoring in the first 10 minutes of the game. Whenever women of troy hit a 3-pointer, ASU responded immediately with a 3-pointer of their own. 

While the Women of Troy kept close with the Sun Devils for the beginning of the first half, USC committed a couple of turnovers that turned into quick points for ASU. USC went cold from the field after that, going seven minutes without scoring from the field, while ASU continued to increase their lead. It looked as if the spark had simmered down for the Women of Troy. 

At the end of the first half, USC was down 37-29. The Women of Troy tried to come back against the Sun Devils, but they just couldn’t seem to consistently get shots in the basket. 

In a complete 180 from how the Women of Troy ended the first half, they came out firing in the second. Cooper shared a bit of what she discussed with her team during halftime. She jokingly said that she couldn’t share everything that she told her team, but she emphasized that her team “had all the tools” to win the game.

“The number one goal for me was to get my team to believe that they deserved a victory tonight,” Cooper explained. 

Getting as close as four points in the first four minutes gave USC a much-needed momentum boost. Junior guard Brianna Barrett scored 6 points in that span to decrease the team’s deficit. 

With about 11 minutes left, red shirt sophomore guard Jordan Adams sunk a huge 3-pointer to put the Women of Troy within one, 45-46. 

Right after, Jaco stole the ball and sunk the breakaway layup to put the Women of Troy up 51-50. The fans at the Galen Center were absolutely loving the new direction of the game and USC was clearly feeding off the energy.

USC continued to battle against ASU, managing to keep their lead close with back-to-back scoring just like at the start of the game. 

After stringing together some key together defensive stops, the Women of Troy completely stepped up their game in the second half. 

“Every good thing that happens to us,” Cooper stated. “Happens because of our defense.”

The final 10 minutes of the game were absolutely intense. Back-and-forth scoring kept fans from both teams on the edge of their seats. 

In the final two minutes, Horn scored back-to-back to get a 64-60 lead over ASU. The Sun Devils tied it up—for the eleventh time—at 64 with four seconds left in regulation. On their final basket, Adams fouled ASU’s forward Sophie Brunner, but Brunner missed the go-ahead free throw. Vaioletama secured the rebound and called a timeout with two seconds left. The final inbounds play for USC was unsuccessful and went the game into overtime. 

Calvert sunk a 3-pointer for the first points of overtime. The first overtime matched the intensity of the second period. The teams remained within two points of each other. 

With 19 seconds left, Vaioletama knocked down two free throws to tie the game for the thirteenth time at 70.

Huge defense by the Women of Troy under the ASU basket sent the game into a second overtime. 

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Vaioletama had the first bucket of the second overtime with a free throw to put USC up 71-70. ASU and USC went back-to-back once again. Once they gained the lead at 74-73, ASU kept it for the rest of the game.

USC continued to keep up their defense by keeping the Sun Devils from scoring for three minutes, but they couldn’t convert their defensive stops into points of their own. 

With 57 seconds left to play, ASU went up 76-73, but the Women of Troy refused to quit. They continued to battle and with less than a second to play, Horn shot a 3-pointer, but it was no good. 

Even though it was a loss, the Women of Troy can look back and be proud about their performance against the Sun Devils. They came back and truly battle against the No. 12 team in the nation (No. 2 in the Pac-12). 

After the game, Vaioletama shared that it was “bittersweet” to have such a large crowd at her final home game; she said she is going to miss all of her family and teammates after the season.

“I’m sad that I’m leaving,” Vaioletama stated. “But I’m excited for what comes next.”

Supported by a massive home crowd, they can carry the momentum they generated from a hard fought game into their next practices, final away games, and—most importantly—the Pac-12 Tournament. 

Coach Cooper closed the night with opportunistic words about her team’s future. 

“You build off of momentum when you realize what you’re capable of doing,” Cooper commented. “And then you hold yourself to that standard every single time you step on the court.”

She wants her team to focus on the fact that if they believe that they can win, they will win games. 

“When you hold yourself to a standard of greatness,” Cooper explained. “You exceed any expectation that you might have for yourself or that anyone has for you.” 

The Women of Troy face Washington on February 26th at 6pm and Washington State on February 28th at 3pm. 

Reach Staff Reporter Jodee Sullivan here. Follow her on Twitter here.

Reach Staff Reporter Hailey Tucker here



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