The Women of Troy ended their season on a high note by defeating the Utah Runnin Utes 83-77 in an overtime thriller. When the game looked out of reach with seconds left in regulation, three pointers and accurate free throw shooting gave USC a second chance when both teams tied at 68 points at the conclusion of the fourth quarter.
“I had to remain calm, as calm as possible for the team,” senior guard Mariya Moore said about the final seconds of the fourth quarter. “What was going through my mind was ‘we may be down, but there’s plenty of time and we’re not willing to give up.’.”
The win solidified the Women of Troy as the number nine seed in the Pac-12 tournament and they are set to battle against the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday at 2:00 P.M.. The winner will face Pac-12 in-season champs the Oregon Ducks in the second round.
Mariya paced USC with 25 points, junior guard Minyon Moore made eight rebounds and three steals. For the Utes, senior forward Megan Huff scored 30 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
“The kids never quit, they had heart,” said women’s basketball head coach Mark Trakh. “It was a great way to end homecoming.”
The Women of Troy lived by the three in the second half of gameplay. Mariya shot from behind the arc to put USC back in the game, it was a major catalyst to going into overtime. Freshmen Shalexxus Aaron landed a three in overtime to help secure USC’s victory, she scored 17 points.
Before the match up, the team celebrated Mariya, forward Cheyanne Wallace, forward Marguerite Effa and guard Aliyah Mazyck for their contributions for USC.
Both teams were cold from behind the arc early on and went scoreless in the first two minutes of the game. USC came out with a competitive edge on defense with junior forward Ja’Tavia Tapley, Mazyck, and Minyon making steals. The Utes made 10 turnovers in the first quarter compared to the Women of Troy’s six.
Utah’s box defense gave USC problems, silencing the Trojan offense for over three regulated minutes. The Women of Troy combated against them with fast break points. Yet, the box held USC to nine points during the second quarter. With 2:08 left before halftime Utah made a 7-3 run. Aaron and Minyon made baskets, closing their scoring gap to three points by the half.
To begin the third phase, Wallace and Mariya worked to tie the score at 28, but the Utes thwarted her efforts with a seven-point run. Perimeter shots from Aaron and Mariya dissolved a seven-point deficit. Guard Sarah Porter gave the Utes the lead with a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter.
The Utes continued to dominate the game throughout the fourth quarter, shots from Huff and junior guard Kiana Moore kept landing. Minyon hustled, committing a steal and a block along with scoring in the paint, to keep USC in the game.
With 00:24 left in regulation, the Women of Troy were down by six. Mariya chopped their deficit in half with a three. She landed another three with six seconds left in the game and the Trojans were down by one point.
“Coach said “absolutely no twos,” he said we need a three,” Mariya said. “When I stepped back, I was gonna drive it, but I was like ‘absolutely not’ because we need a three at this point.”
Free throws from freshman guard Desiree Caldwell sent the game into overtime.
Both teams traded trips to the free throw line until Aaron hit a three with 14 seconds left. Kiana tied the game with a three-pointer of her own. Three trips to the free throw line sealed the Trojan’s victory.
“One thing about me just hitting the shot was when I had missed two threes before that one went in [during overtime],” Aaron said. “The coaches especially were saying keep shooting, they didn’t care about the missed shot.”
The Women of Troy finished their season with a 17-12 overall record and a 7-11 Pac-12 record.