Huge Second Half Leads The Cougs Past USC, 74-57
PULLMAN, Wash. – Alexys Swedlund poured in a career-best 22 points while freshman Chanelle Molina and senior Ivana Kmetovska added 16 a piece as the Washington State women’s basketball team cruised to an impressive 74-57 win over Southern California on Sunday afternoon at Beasley Coliseum. The Cougars (8-8, 3-2 Pac-12) won their third-straight conference contest while handing the Trojans (10-5, 1-3 Pac-12) their third-straight defeat.
The win for WSU finished off a sweep of the Pac-12’s Southern California schools after upsetting No. 7 UCLA, 82-73, Friday night. It was the first time the Cougars had swept the LA based schools since doing so at the beginning of Pac-12 play in the 1994-95 season.
A game that looked like it was going to be a fight through the first 20 minutes of action quickly turned into a lopsided win for the Cougars as WSU blitzed the Trojans out of break with a 17-2 run that turned a one-point halftime deficit into a commanding 14-point lead. During the run, the Cougs scored 13-unanswered points by beating the Trojans to the basket for easy looks including back-to-back layups by Swedlund to start the quarter. From there the Cougs would never look back as the lead would swell to as much as 15 in the quarter before a dry spell hit allowing the Trojans to close to within eight heading into the final quarter of play.
Despite the lead being cut in half, the Cougs came out blazing once again in the fourth with an 8-3 run that buried the Trojans for good. Closing out strong, WSU’s defense overwhelmed USC’s comeback attempt, holding the Trojans to just three points and one field goal over the final 5:36 of the game while taking time off the clock and scoring 11 more points on the offensive end. In all, the Cougs shot 61.6% (8-for-13) from the floor in the game’s final frame thanks in large part to hitting their first four shots of the quarter including three easy buckets from Molina.
Overall, the Cougs shot 48.4% (31-of-64) from the field while holding the Trojans’ offense to just 36.2% (21-of-58) shooting. Swedlund’s 22 points came on just 13 shots as the marksman went 9-for-13 while hitting 3-of-7 from deep. Molina, despite scoring just two points on two shots in the first half, followed up her 33-point performance against UCLA with 16 more against the Trojans as she hit 6-of-7 from the floor to raise her season shooting percentage to 52.9%. The 16-points marked the 11th-straight game for Molina in double-figures, pushing her to third all-time in the Cougars’ freshmen record book. Not to be outdone, Kmetovska ended her day with a career-best 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting as the senior has finished all five Pac-12 games in double-figures after hitting the 10-point mark just once prior to the start of conference play.
On the glass, the Cougars came up with 45 rebounds including 18 on the offensive side of the ball thanks to a career effort out of freshman Kayla Washington who grabbed 10 total boards including four offensive rebounds. Sophomore Maria Kostourkova chipped in nine rebounds, five on the offensive end, while also tallying three blocks.
The Trojans were led by Kristen Simon with a game-high 25 points to go with nine rebounds as the USC forward was the lone Trojan to reach double-figures. Simon kept the Trojans in the game early with 14 points in the paint and at the line in the first half but ran into foul trouble. The 57 points for the Trojans marked just the second time in 2016-17 USC was held under 60 points as they entered the game averaging 75.2 ppg.
Washington State will next take its 2017 win-streak on the road to No. 19 Arizona State where the two teams will face off in a morning contest, Friday, January 13. The game is scheduled for a 10 a.m. PT tip from Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz.