Huskies survive Trojan-sized scare

For a while, it looked as if the Washington Huskies would be making a quick exit from the Pac-10 Tournament for the second straight year. However, Giuliana Mendiola and the Huskies would not be denied this time as they fought off the USC Trojans for the sixth straight time in route to a dramatic 64-63 victory in San Jose.

USC was playing their second game in less than 24 hours. The No. 7 Trojans had to fight for their lives to get past the last place Washington State Cougars last night to get to the second round with their date with the Huskies.

The Huskies came out firing everything they had out of the gates, but had trouble finding the net. Washington started the game out at 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, and 0-for-7 combined from the field. The Huskies did not let the missed shots affect their style of play however as they maintained their composure and kept at it until they could finally get into rhythm.

Their persistence would pay off as Mendiola's jumper finally broke the shooting drought for the Huskies that seemed to finally get them over the hump. After the first seven missed shots, Washington went on to shoot 13-of-25 from the field for the rest of the first half, most of which was fueled by Mendiola.

Washington went on a 12-2 run to end the first half with the Pac-10 Player of the Year supplying eight points in that run.

The Huskies continued their attack on the Trojans to open the second half. After a pair of three-pointers from Andrea Lalum and Mendiola, the Huskies were sitting on a comfortable 41-29 lead with 16 minutes to go in the game.

But the Huskies semi-flat play would come back to haunt them. The Trojans immediately went on a 13-0 run that was helped out by costly turnovers. USC turned up the physical play by a couple of notches as bodies were flying everywhere. USC's Ebony Hoffman and Aisha Hollans crashed the boards and capitalized on second chance opportunities. The duo made the plays for the Trojans that allowed them to take a 42-41 lead.

The Huskies and Trojans would play a see-saw second half with numerous lead changes. Loree Payne, who was having a poor day on the perimeter, took it upon herself to start driving inside. Payne made some key lay-ups that kept the Huskies within striking distance.

But the Trojans would not let up. After the Trojans' Hoffman made a three-point play on the other end, the Huskies were trailing by two with just under two minutes to go. Lalum hit another clutch three-pointer to give the Huskies the lead once again. Lalum had 12 points, all from three-pointers.

With 1:29 to go and USC up 61-60 and with possession of the ball, the Trojans had a chance to build their lead but Kellie Dalan made a fantastic play to take a charge to get the Trojans to turn the ball over.

Washington needed another clutch shot and looked once again to Mendiola to lead the way. With just 29 seconds to go in the game, Mendiola took a sharp pass from Payne to lay it up to give the Huskies a 62-61 lead, which prompted a quick USC time out.

USC's Rometra Craig brought the ball in but a wild pass that went off Rachel Woodward's knee triggered a mad scramble for the loose ball. A jump ball was called and by rule of alternating possession, the Huskies took control. With Payne getting immediately fouled on the ensuing inbound, she drained both free throws to seal the game for the Huskies

Mendiola had a phenomenal game scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. She shot 10-of-15 from the field including 3-of-5 from three-pointers. Her play helped the Huskies overcame a miserable 37 percent shooting. All in all, Washington shot 22-of-59 from the floor, and shot only 9-of-31 from long distance.

Up Next: The Huskies will play the winner of the Arizona-Oregon State game at 12:30pm tomorrow. Washington split the season series with both teams. Top Stories