UW Women escape with Payneful victory

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That's what Washington guard Loree Payne did tonight, and it seemed to work just fine as the junior from Montana shed what looked to be goat horns in a matter of minutes, leading Washington over USC 80-79 Sunday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

Payne, who missed her first nine shot attempts in the game, came on late to make her last four, including two of the most important of the contest. With Washington down two points late, she nailed an apparent game-winning three-point shot with 1.1-second left in regulation, but the referees later ruled it a two pointer, sending the game into overtime.

With Washington clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute of overtime, USC forward Rachel Woodward looped a five-foot leaner over Washington post players Andrea Lalum and Emily Autrey with 19.9 seconds remaining to give USC a 79-78 lead. Without calling a timeout, point guard Kristen O'Neill quickly took the ball up-court for Washington. As the clock ticked down, the Huskies went into a motion offense trying to get someone open. Just when it looked like the team was beginning to press, Payne broke open in front of the Husky bench near the sidelines and Autrey swung the pass to her.

Never afraid of taking the last shot, the sharp-shooter drove the lane going left and floated a soft finger-roll through the twine with her right hand while drawing the fifth person foul on USC's Aisha Hollans with 4.8 seconds remaining on the game clock.

Payne missed the free throw, but USC could only manage a one-handed desperation heave from half-court, which hit only backboard as the clock hit zeros.

The victory gave Washington (9-5, 4-1 Pac-10) its second overtime win at home over the Women of Troy in as many years.

"I am very excited about this win tonight because it proved that our intensity level has risen and we proved to ourselves that we are blossoming against tough teams," said Washington Head Coach June Daugherty. "Everyone played very hard in every position and I am very proud of this team for battling so hard. I was worried that we would be tired during that overtime period but we proved that we had it in us to fight hard. The girls stepped up in overtime."

Featuring two of the more talented teams in the Pac-10 Conference, tonight's game figured to be exciting. The fans at Hec-Ed did not go home disappointed.

From the opening tip, the Women of Troy came at the Huskies with a tough man-to-man defense that made the Purple and Gold work for every point. USC's athletic backcourt combination of Aisha Hollans and Jessica Cheeks gave the Huskies fits from the perimeter.

"USC's defense really threw us out of our offense tonight and their toughness forced us to toughen up," said Payne after the game.

Battling back and forth for the entire first half, neither team held a lead of larger than six, which Washington held at 14-8. USC took advantage of the hot shooting of Hollans, who poured in 14 before halftime on 5-10 shooting from the field and 4-4 from the line, to jump out to a 34-29 lead at intermission.

Coming out of the lockeroom, the Huskies quickly closed the gap. A three-pointer by center Andrea Lalum in front of the Washington bench put the UW back out in front at 39-38. But thanks to the play of USC's Hollans, it wouldn't last long. The flashy five-foot, nine-inch shooting guard rebounded a missed three pointer by Sheets and laid it in to put the Women of Troy back on top. The next time down the court she stole the ball from Kellie O'Neill, who had grabbed a rebound, then got open for a three-pointer and knocked it down to make it a 43-39 USC advantage.

Hollans finished with a game-high 26 points.

As the game went down the final minutes, USC hurt themselves by getting into foul trouble. Hollans picked up her fourth with 6:28 remaining to send Payne to the line. Washington got a break on the errant foul shot when USC's best post player, Ebony Hoffman, was called for her fourth personal on a lose ball foul. In the final four minutes of play, the Women of Troy were left with three players that had four fouls, and two others that had three.

Hollans, who before her fourth foul was as aggressive as any visiting player to play at Hec Ed this season, played passive for the remainder of the contest and went scoreless in the game's final 12 minutes.

"(Aisha) got tired," said USC Head Coach Chris Gobrecht, who formerly coached at Washington. "She played a lot of minutes. That made her a little slow when she was guarding Payne. We'll kick ourselves about it but we'll move on."

USC (8-7, 4-2 Pac-10) had three others finish in double-digit scoring: Woodward (13), Tiffany Elmore (11), and Hoffman (10).

Washington was led in scoring by the 20 points of Giuliana Mendiola, who scored 13 in the second half and went 9-10 from the free throw line. Lalum added 12 and freshman guard Kayla Burt hit double-figures for the second game in a row with 10 off the bench.
Game Notes:

A Win to Remember: After the game, Washington Head Coach June Daugherty tearfully dedicated the victory to former Ohio State Head Coach Fred Taylor, who died over the weekend. "I would like to dedicate this win to (him)," she said. "He coached Mike (Daugherty), and there is a lot of Fred in our program. He would have loved this game tonight because it was a hard fought battle."

Advantage Washington: After tonight's win, the UW now holds an 18-13 lead in the all-time series versus USC.

Ouch: With 11:08 remaining in the game, USC's senior guard Tiffany Elmore drove the lane and fell hard to the ground while making a tough layin. It came at a price. Elmore landed awkwardly, and stayed down on the court in pain while holding her ankle. She never returned. After the game, it was learned that the injury was a possible fracture of her left ankle.

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