SEATTLE – The Arizona State women’s basketball team was upset by USC, 59-57, in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Friday.
The Sun Devils (22-9) were led in scoring by Katie Hempen, who had 12 points. Also putting forth strong efforts for the Sun Devils were Kelsey Moos, who had a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds); Joy Burke, who came one rebound short of a double-double (10 points, nine rebounds); and Deja Mann, who scored 10 points.
USC (20-12) was led by Cassie Harberts (14 points) and Ariya Crook (13), who combined for 27 points.
Trailing by as many as nine in the second half, and by six with less than four minutes remaining, it appeared the Sun Devils were on their way to a comeback after a 6-0 run tied the score at 57-57.
A free throw by Burke started the run and was soon followed by a layup by Mann that cut USC’s lead to three. Hempen’s fourth 3-pointer of the game with 2:22 left knotted the score for the first time since the start of the second half.
USC’s scoring drought, which lasted nearly four minutes, ended when Kiki Alofaituli’s jumper put USC back on top, 59-57 with 1:25 remaining.
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, they were unable to find any more offense over the last 66 seconds of the game as a trio of 3-point attempts missed their mark.
Defense dominated early as the two teams combined for 24 points (12 points each) over the first nine-plus minutes of the game. Neither team led by more than three points until a 3-pointer by Hempen put ASU up 17-12. Hempen’s triple came in the middle of a 9-0 ASU run. Four different Sun Devils scored on the run, which came over a span of a little more than three minutes.
Later in the half it would be the Sun Devils who found it difficult to score as two free throws by Promise Amukamara would be ASU’s only points the rest of the half. The Trojans closed with an 11-2 run to tie the score at 23-23 at the half.
The Trojans scored 19 of the first 30 points of the second half to take a 42-34 lead with 10:35 remaining.
The Sun Devils got within three or fewer three times before their final rally of the game, but the Trojans were able to reclaim a two-possession advantage thanks to a pair of 3-pointers.
The Sun Devils will now await word on their postseason destination when the NCAA announces its field of 64 teams on Monday, March 17 at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN.