Paige Crozon tied her season high with 13 points.
Feb. 1, 2013
LOS ANGELES - A strong shooting percentage in the second half and free throws in the final seconds helped lift the Utah women's basketball team to a 63-60 win over USC on Friday evening.
Iwalani Rodrigues tied her season high with 23 points while Paige Crozon tied her career best with 13 points and had a team-high six rebounds. Michelle Plouffe was also in double figure scoring with 14 points.
"We are so proud of our team," Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. "I've been telling everyone how much we enjoy coaching them. The hardest part of this has been watching our players suffer through all of the things that we've been through. It's really gratifying for us as a staff to see them earn this win in the way that we did."
Utah (11-9, 2-7 Pac-12) led by as many as 10 points in the second half after trailing at halftime, 26-24. The Utes held a one-point lead, 36-35 with 13:30 left in the game before an 8-0 run that was sparked by Rodrigues gave the Utes a nine-point advantage, 44-35 with 11:25 left. Rodrigues scored six-straight points in the rally for Utah.
Utah led by seven points, 56-49 with 51 seconds remaining. USC was able to close the lead in the final minute with the help of Ariya Crook, who scored six points with driving layups. Utah was forced to answer with free throws, and the Utes went 7-of-11 from the charity stripe in the final minute.
With Utah holding a two-point, 61-59 lead with 12 seconds remaining, USC got the ball back and was fouled at its end of the floor, making one of two free throws to make it a one-point game with four seconds left, 61-60. Crozon was immediately fouled on the inbounds and made both of her free throws to push the lead back up to three, 60-63. Crook's desperation three at the buzzer was wide of its mark, giving Utah the win.
Utah shot 57 percent in the second half and 44 percent in the game.
"I thought it was the best we had been all year long in motion," Levrets said. "As a motion team, it takes awhile sometimes to get to where you are going to be reading screens correctly and see the floor correctly, and we did that as well tonight as we have all year. The other thing is, we made shots. We were 7-of-12 from the three-point line."
The score was tied five times with seven lead changes.
Utah remains in Los Angeles through Sunday, as the Utes take on UCLA on Feb. 3 at 12:30 p.m. PT.