USC holds off San Diego State to win Women of Troy Basketball Classic
Los Angeles – USC held off a surging San Diego State squad Sunday to win the championship of their tournament, the Women of Troy Basketball Classic, 74-64.
Trojan point guard Ashley Corral led all scorers with 23 points, while teammate Christina Marinacci added 14 and Briana Gilbreath and Jacki Gemelos each had 13. Paris Johnson led the way for the Aztecs with 18 points, while Coco Davis put up 16.
Corral got USC rolling quickly, scoring her team’s first ten points by the 16:35 mark. She made all of her first five shots, including three consecutive treys. Jessika Bradley was the lone scorer for SDSU for a while too, and then other players on both teams stepped up.
The Trojans used strong defense and 46 percent first half shooting to build a lead, and they were ahead 42-27 at the half. But the Aztecs came out strong in the second half, and held USC scoreless for the first 3:30 as they cut their lead to eight.
Corral went down with an injury with over 15 minutes left, and was taken off court. SDSU took advantage of her absence and cut the lead to four with under 10 minutes to go. They went on to cut the deficit to four three more times â€“ the last at the 4:26 mark when the score was 62-58.
But the Trojans went on an 8-0 run, culminating in back-to-back three’s by Corral and Marinacci, to put them back up by 12 with 3:01 left. The Aztecs were able to pull no closer than nine points during the remainder of the game.
Gilbreath was the tournament MVP. Other first-team selections were Davis, Corral, Brittany Spears of Colorado, and Justine Raterman of Dayton.
USC Coach Michael Cooper attributed the win to both strategy and good defense.
“We did a good job of taking SDSU out of their low-post game in the first half, and we did a good job of keeping (Aztec point guard Coco) Davis down,” he said.
“We’re a good defensive team, and the majority of the time tonight we stuck with our defensive schemes. Our defensive intensity won the game for us.”
Cooper acknowledged that the Trojans are a good shooting team, and said they are getting better at working together as a unit.
“We’re doing better creating shots for each other and not being selfish,” he said.
Cooper called the game “a good culmination of all the games we’ve played until now” – especially USC’s loss to Xavier earlier this month.
“We learned a lot from that,” he said. “We learned we can play with anybody, and that we can use our defense to keep the bigs on other teams from scoring.”
Gemelos, who has been able to play since February after sitting out almost four years with injuries, played her first two consecutive games this weekend, and started Sunday. Cooper said he and his coaching staff have been pushing her.
“Jacki’s come a long way, and we haven’t seen the best of her yet,” he said. “She’s getting more comfortable and less worried about re-injuring.”
USC improves to 7-3 with the win. Cooper said their goals are to win the Pac-10 this year and go to the NCAA Tournament in March.
“Our performance last year put everyone on notice that we’re here for real,” he said.
- USC junior Ashley Corral named Pac-10 Player of the Week. She averaged 18.5 points, six rebounds and five assists at the tournament.
- USC’s next game takes the Trojans to Fresno State for a non-conference matchup at 6 p.m. on December 29. USC rings in the New Year with the start of Pac-10 action when they visit Washington State for a 1 p.m. game on December 31 followed up with Washington at 2 p.m. on January 2.