For all but three minutes, the Washington State University women's hoop team were every bit as good as USC. But it was those crucial three minutes – which just happened to be the last three minutes of the game – that the Women of Troy were able to fend off the Cougars and distance themselves enough for a 68-57 win at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman.
Three Cougars were in double figures in scoring and they were led by the usual suspects – freshmen sensations Jazmine Perkins with 17 points and April Cook with 16 points while senior center Heather Molzen added 11 points.
Wazzu jumped out to an early lead as the Cougars scored the game's first seven points behind a pair of three-balls from Cook and Molzen while senior Katie Appleton added a free throw. Capitalizing on two consecutive turnovers from senior center Ebonee Coates, the Women of Troy came back to tie it at 7-7. From there, the two teams played back and forth with the lead for the next six minutes before USC finally took a six-point lead at 23-17. But a trey from Cook and another from freshman Danielle Lenoir brought Wazzu back to within two at 25-23. The Women of Troy took a 28-23 lead but the Cougars again brought it back to a single digit with back-to-back buckets from Lenoir and Cook before Perkins kissed a trey off the glass to give Wazzu a two-point advantage and Molzen added another bucket to finish off the Cougars' 9-0 and help secure the 32-31 halftime lead.
The Cougars went cold to begin the second half and did not score their first field goal until five minutes into the half when Molzen hit a bucket. By that time, USC had reeled off 11 points and re-taken the lead. Poor free throw shooting hampered Wazzu's efforts to get the lead back as the Cougars missed several free throws and went only 10-for-25 [40%] for the game. But despite the bricklaying from the charity stripe, the Cougars were still able to stick with USC and prevented the Women of Troy from building any momentum. After Molzen hit her bucket, USC built a seven-point lead at 49-42 before Wazzu embarked on a 6-0 run to pull within a point at 49-48. Seconds later, Perkins hit a trey to tie the game at 51-all and the two teams traded baskets for the next few possessions. But when Perkins banked in another three-pointer to bring Wazzu to 58-56 with 5:46 remaining, it would signal the last field goal of the game for the Cougars. Coates – who pulled down 13 rebounds while also fouling out of the game – hit a free throw with 3:20 left to again bring Wazzu within a single digit at 58-57, but that was the last point for the Cougars and the Women of Troy pulled away with a game-ending 10-0 run to seal the victory.
Freshman Rosie Tarnowski missed the game after contracting a viral infection.
Wazzu's next game is against UCLA at 2pm on Sunday, February 22 at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman.
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