USC flirted with a major upset in women’s basketball Friday night, leading No. 6-ranked Notre Dame by five late in the second half before falling, 60-56, in front of an announced crowd of 3,085 at the Sports Arena.
The Trojans had a 45-40 edge with less than eight minutes left, but the Irish responded with 10 consecutive points.
Still, Notre Dame (6-0), which had 18 points from Jacqueline Batteast and 12 from Megan Duffy, came away impressed by the youthful energy and verve of USC (1-2).
“They’re terrific defensively, and they rebound like crazy,” Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw said of the Trojans. “I don’t know what the margin ended up being, but they did a great job on the offensive boards. We couldn’t shut out their big players.”
The Trojans did have a 42-36 rebounding edge, but there was another statistic that didn’t please Coach Mark Trakh.
“We should have won this game. But we’re seven of 17 from the free-throw line,” Trakh said. “We make free throws, we win the game.”
The Trojans, in a nod to the Irish advantage in size and experience, hoped to use speed and depth as a neutralizer. “We wanted to make the game as frantic as possible,” Trakh said.
And even though Notre Dame took a 12-4 lead and was able to inch its advantage to 29-20 edge at halftime, USC did establish a quick tempo that bothered the Irish in the first half. Notre Dame made 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and 23 turnovers overall.
The Trojans, who finished with 25 turnovers, continued their high-octane ways in the second half, and the rewards came rapidly. USC opened the half with a 14-3 run to take a 34-32 lead. Jamie Funn had 13 points to lead the Trojans.
Said USC’s Kim Gipson, who tied her career high with 12 points: “We have to get better at handling the last four to five minutes of the game.”
No. 2 Louisiana State 64, No. 22 Maryland 51 -- Sylvia Fowles had 18 points and 18 rebounds, and Seimone Augustus had 23 points to lead the Tigers (6-0) over the Terrapins (2-1) in the opening game of the Coors Classic at Boulder, Colo.
No. 3 Georgia 77, Idaho 55 -- Cori Chambers and Tasha Humphrey each scored 18 points for the Bulldogs (3-0), who beat the Vandals (2-1) in the Rainbow Wahine Classic’s first round at Honolulu.
No. 13 Michigan State 56, Utah 54 -- The Spartans’ Kristin Haynie made a layup with two seconds left for the victory over the Utes (1-2) in the first round of the Rainbow Wahine Classic. Haynie scored the game’s last six points and finished with 12 for Michigan State (3-0).
No. 16 Kansas State 105, Illinois State 61 -- Kendra Wecker had a school-record 41 points to lift the Wildcats (3-0) over the Redbirds (0-2) at Freeport, Bahamas, in the Junkanoo Jam. In today’s title game, Kansas State will play No. 10 Duke (4-1), an 84-29 winner over Stephen F. Austin.
Michigan 57, UC Santa Barbara 51 -- The Wolverines (1-1) ended the 12-game home winning streak of the Gauchos (1-1) at Goleta, Calif.