On the strength of four Heather Oliver three-pointers down the stretch, the Women of Troy managed to do something on the first day of 2010 they hadn't done since 2003: beat Arizona State, at Arizona State.
USC (7-5) had last won in Tempe in January of '03 before coming from behind to upset the Sun Devils today, 60-56, before 2,412 at Wells Fargo Arena.
With five minutes remaining, No. 19 ASU (8-4) appeared to hold a clamp on the game with a 53-44 lead, but Oliver proceeded to knock down three consecutive threes to close the gap to 56-53 with 1:35 left.
From there, leading scorer Briana Gilbreath (16 points on 5-of-11 shooting) proceeded to knock down two free throws and produce a lay-up off a steal to give USC a 57-56 lead. Three free throws from point guard Ashley Corral sealed the win for the Women of Troy in their Pac-10 opener.
"It was a very, very, exciting finish,” Oliver said in a postgame phone interview, her words nearly drowned out by whoops in the background.
The statistics don't really add up. The Sun Devils outshot (47 percent to 40), out-rebounded (40 to 28) and out-assisted (20 to 11) the Women of Troy by significant margins, but — somehow, some way — USC came away with the victory.
"We just started doing everything right," Gilbreath said.
Arizona State was the third ranked opponent USC has beaten this season; all three have come away from home. Gilbreath said Friday it was "the best feeling" to quiet the rowdy Sun Devil crowd late in the game.
But USC must put the upset behind them and look east to Tucson, where they will take on Arizona at 2 p.m. MT Sunday.
"The next game's already started for us," Gilbreath said. "We have to be focused. A lot of times after big wins, teams let their collective guards down, so it's important for us to maintain that focus."