USC women’s basketball senior transfer guard Aliyah Jeune walked away from the podium postgame, all smiles with the game ball in her arms after facing their crosstown rivals in a sludge match.
The Trojans overcame a six-point deficit in double overtime to upset No. 7 UCLA 70-68 on Friday night at the Galen Center, giving the Bruins their first loss of the season after being the last undefeated team in the nation.
Jeune fought through adversity when she left the game with a leg injury late in the third quarter, only to come back and get a huge steal and breakaway layup to give the Trojans a one-point lead with 1:10 left in double overtime.
“Just wanted to beat them so bad,” said Jeune, who had 27 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. “We’ve been preparing for this game since we lost, really.”
“My teammates motivate me a lot. A lot of things I do is for my team,” Jeune added on returning to the game after suffering a leg injury. “I just go hard for them. I don’t care if I’m hurting.”
USC (9-8 overall, 1-5 Pac-12) suffered a 24-point loss to UCLA (16-1, 5-1) on Dec. 29, this time the Trojans snapped a five-game losing streak and earned their first conference win of the season.
Trojans freshman Alissa Pili’s had 19 points and 17 rebounds and helped USC shoot 39.4 percent from the floor in the first half while UCLA was held to 18.2 percent.
“We’ve been so close to getting wins, and we finally came out with the win today,” said Pili.
“Especially coming off of losing five games in a row and getting this big win, I think it meant a lot to us and the coaches,” Pili added.
UCLA was led by 24 points and 10 rebounds from senior guard Japreece Dean, while freshman guard and Moreno Valley native Charisma Osborne added 20.
Southern California held a 16-15 lead in the first quarter and then completely turned up its defensive intensity, holding the Bruins to only two in the second to take a commanding 30-17 lead at halftime.
However, in the third, Osbourne scored 11 of the Bruins 24 points and UCLA went on a 16-2 run to get within three.
USC led 43-41 to open the fourth but the Trojans lead was quickly erased after Osbourne buried a three-pointer 28 seconds into the quarter to capture the Bruins first lead since the first period.
“They came out with great energy and did a good job competing,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “I’m really proud of the fight we showed coming back, but it stings.”
UCLA led 53-48 with 3:38 remaining but the Trojans scored five straight to tie and ultimately force overtime after Kayla Overbeck converted two free throws.
In overtime, Southern California led 59-56 with six seconds remaining after Desiree Caldwell made two free throws, but Bruins guard Natalie Chou forced double overtime with a game tying three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer.
The Bruins had a 64-59 lead with 3:17 remaining in the second overtime but the Trojans stayed resilient, responding with a 10-2 run to close the game.
“We were able to get the ball in the right people’s hands to step up and hit those shots,” USC associate head coach Aarika Hughes said.
Pili made the play of the game with 28 seconds remaining, as she was fouled and converted the and-one lay-up and free throw, ending the game at 70-68 in favor of the Trojans.
“I always say the pain of where you are has to be greater than the pain it will take to change,” Close said. “And this one’s pretty painful right now so I have a lot of confidence that you’ll see a lot of change.”