Women’s basketball upsets UCLA in double-overtime nailbiter

first_imgPili returned to the game with less than four and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Trojans trailing 50-46.  Without Onyenwere, guards senior Japreece Dean and freshman Charisma Osborne picked up the scoring load, finishing with 24 and 20 points, respectively. This time, USC held on for the win. After USC expanded the lead to 3 with just under five seconds on the clock, the Bruins seamlessly executed a full-court inbounds play, leading to an open corner three from redshirt junior guard Natalie Chou that sent the game to double overtime.   “You guys would’ve never known our record when we came into practice Tuesday,” associate head coach Aarika Hughes said of the team’s mindset heading into the matchup. “It was phenomenal.”  Pili finished the game with 19 points and 17 rebounds, posting another double-double and adding to what has been an impressive freshman campaign.  On the Trojans’ final offensive possession of the third quarter, Jeune went down after landing awkwardly following a jump shot attempt. She was helped off the court by medical staff and returned to the game three minutes into the fourth, amidst a heavy UCLA run.   USC, backed by an energized Galen Center crowd, closed out the fourth quarter in strong fashion, as two free throws from senior forward Kayla Overbeck tied the game with 50 seconds remaining, eventually sending it to overtime.  For USC, the second half certainly was not ideal, but a never-quit attitude helped it earn an upset win to eliminate its crosstown rival as the nation’s only remaining unbeaten team.  A handful of big defensive plays along with clutch 3-pointers from graduate guard Aliyah Jeune kept the Trojans alive every time they seemed to be on the ropes down the stretch. The harsh luck continued for USC minutes later, when freshman forward Alissa Pili went down with a lower right leg injury after attempting a contested putback layup. She remained down after the play and was taken to the locker room.  Shortly after Jeune exited, UCLA went ahead and Trojan freshman guard Kyra White exited the game after also suffering an injury. She was taken to the locker room and did not return. The Trojans will have a week off until they’re back in action Friday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. against Washington State at home. Osborne spearheaded UCLA’s third-quarter comeback by scoring 14 points, helping the Bruins cut the lead to just 2 points entering the fourth. Jeune, a graduate transfer from Morehead State, finished the game with a remarkable 27 points and 13 rebounds, including 6-12 3-pointers.  After going down by as much as 5 points early in the period, the Trojans battled back to cut the lead to just 1 point, and a 3-point play from Pili in the final minute put the Trojans up by 2 with 15 seconds remaining.  “A lot of things I did were for my team, so I just go hard for them,” Jeune said. “I don’t care if I’m hurt. I can ice it after. I’m not dying. I’m going to go as hard as I can for my team.”  The Trojans’ improved closeout and help defense were on full display in the first half, as UCLA scored just 17 points on an abysmal 18.2% shooting. A jumper from freshman guard Endyia Rogers put the Trojans ahead by 1 with just over a minute left in the first overtime, but Dean responded quickly with a three to put the Bruins in a prime position to secure a hard-fought road win and remain undefeated. After a loose ball caused a scrum on USC’s ensuing possession, Jeune sank a clutch go-ahead 3-pointer to answer back and give the Trojans a 57-56 lead with 19.7 seconds to go. The Bruins came alive in the second half, however, as a quick 9-0 run in the early minutes of the third quarter forced USC head coach Mark Trakh to call a timeout after seeing his team’s lead drop to single digits.  The Bruins were without leading scorer Michaela Onyenwere, as the junior forward was ruled out after being a game-time decision. Onyenwere has been averaging an impressive 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on the season. Graduate guard Aliyah Jeune posted season highs in points (tied-27), 3-pointers (6), rebounds (13) and steals (tied-3) in USC’s double-overtime win Friday night. (James Wolfe / Daily Trojan) The game was a tale of two halves for the Trojans, as a disappointing second half saw USC squander a 17-point lead and nearly surrender the season series to the Bruins. “Getting this big win I think meant a lot to us and the coaches,” Pili said. “We’ve been so close to getting wins and we finally came out with one today.” “When you have such positive motivation and people encouraging you to just be yourself … I give it all to them because they just encouraged me so much and gave me motivation and confidence to just play my game,” Jeune said.  The USC women’s basketball team picked up its first conference win in a thrilling double-overtime 70-68 upset over crosstown rival and previously unbeaten No. 7 UCLA Friday at Galen Center.last_img

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