Another strong second half wasn't quite enough for Colorado women's basketball to overcome a 12-point halftime deficit, as the Buffs fell to USC on senior day, 66-59.
"How we came out in the first half really hurt us," said head coach Linda Lappe. "We did a great job in the second half, but you can't spot a good team 12 points in one half."
Lappe characterized her team as unfocused in the first half. CU allowed the Women of Troy to shoot 47.6 percent in the first half, and the Buffs hit only four of the 13 free throws they took in the first 20 minutes.
Rachel Hargis and Brittany Wilson hit back-to-back buckets to begin the second half for the Buffs, starting a 12-2 run. Colorado forced turnovers and got good looks at the basket in transition. With 14:32 to play, Zoe Beard-Fails cleaned up a Brittany Wilson miss to tie the game at 36.
CU's aggressiveness helped get USC star Cassie Harberts in foul trouble. Clearly not wanting to pick up any more fouls, Harberts had to play much more passively on the defensive end of the floor.
"Ashley (Wilson) drove right around her because she (Harberts) didn't want to foul," said Brittany Wilson. "Rachel hit a shot at the foul key because she didn't want to foul. She was a little bit hesitant with her third or fourth (foul)."
With five minutes remaining, Colorado trailed 56-48 and needed to make a run. Lexy Kresl found Arielle Roberson under the basket to cut the lead to six. CU picked up a defensive stop and Ashley Wilson pushed the ball in transition. Ashley Wilson would miss the layup, but grab her own rebound and bank it in, drawing a foul.
Ashley Wilson missed her free throw, but Roberson forced a crucial jump ball off the miss. Brittany Wilson found Hargis at the free throw line to close the gap to two.
With 2:37 to play, Swan made a layup to tie the game at 56. However, on the ensuing defensive possession, Swan picked up a foul and Harberts hit two free throws to vault USC back into the lead.
USC and CU proceeded to exchange stops on defense. With less than 1:30 to play, Kresl snared a USC miss and found Brittany Wilson down the court, who drove into traffic, hit a layup, and knocked down a free throw to give CU the 59-58 lead.
USC's Alexyz Vaioletama responded by knocking down two free throws to reclaim the lead. Out of a Lappe timeout, Roberson forced up a shot in traffic. While Lappe and the crowd of 5,631 asked for a foul, Crook took the ball the length of the floor and hit a layup.
The Women of Troy knocked down all their free throws in the final minute to ice the win.
Brittany Wilson led the Buffs with 15 points. Ashley Wilson, Swan, and Beard-Fails all finished with 10 points.
Colorado finishes Pac-12 play at 6-12 and will face UCLA in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament this Thursday at 1 p.m., MST.