March 3, 2013
TEMPE, Ariz. -- For the second time in as many games, the Arizona State women's basketball team nearly overcame a double-digit deficit only to fall short in the end. On Sunday it was USC which led by as many as 13 and was able to maintain its advantage until the final horn in a 67-60 win.
Sunday's game was the final home game for Sun Devil seniors Micaela Pickens. Both players set or tied career highs as Fulcher scored 17 points and had a career-best 13 rebounds while Pickens added eight points and tied her career high in rebounds with nine. Promise Amukamara added 10 points for the Sun Devils (13-17, 5-13 Pac-12), who were able to get within four points of USC on four different occasions in the second half, but could not get any closer.
Ariya Crook (13 points), Christina Marinacci (13 points), Cassie Harberts (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Kiki Alofaituli (11 points) all scored in double figures for the Trojans (10-19, 7-11 Pac-12), who scored more than a third of their points at the free thrown line (25-31/.806).
The Trojans used a pair of 7-0 runs in the first half to help build a 29-16 lead following Destinie Gibbs' jumper.
The Sun Devils would go into the locker room trailing 34-23 at the half. USC would once again go up by 13 after Alofaituli's jumper less than 30 seconds into the second half.
In the first meeting between the two schools on Jan. 25 in Los Angeles, the Sun Devils came back from 16 down in the second half to claim a 60-53 win. Midway through the second half on Sunday it appeared they were on their way to overcoming another double-digit, second-half deficit after a 14-5 run got them within four, 41-37 with 9:53 left. It was one of three times the Sun Devils would get within four over the ensuing three-plus minutes, but each time they were unable to come up with another score to make it a one-possession game.
USC would slowly build its advantage back up to 10 before one last ASU rally once again got the Sun Devils within four, 64-60, after Pickens' three-point play. It would prove to be too little, too late as USC made 3-4 free throws in the final 18 seconds to seal the win.
The Sun Devils will enter this week's Pac-12 Tournament at KeyArena in Seattle as the No. 9 seed. They will open tournament play on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT when they take on Washington State (No. 8 seed). The winner of Thursday night's ASU-WSU game will face top-seeded Stanford in the quarterfinals on Friday at 6 p.m. PT. Both games can be seen live on Pac-12 Networks. All of ASU's games at the Pac-12 Tournament can also be heard live on The Fan AM 1060.