Arizona women’s season ends with Pac-12 loss to USC

SEATTLE (AP) — Ariya Crook scored 19 points, including three free throws in the final 30 seconds, as the fifth-seeded USC women beat 12th-seeded Arizona 59-54 in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Thursday.

Carissa Crutchfield hit a 3-pointer with 7:41 to play, pulling Arizona within three at 52-49, but the Wildcats went just 1 of 8 from the field the rest of the way as USC (19-12) held on for the win.

The Women of Troy will play fourth-seeded Arizona State (22-8) in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Alexyz Vaioletama pulled down 12 rebounds and Cassie Harberts grabbed 11 for USC, which outrebounded Arizona (5-25) 41-30, including 12-4 on the offensive glass. Kate Oliver scored 12 in the win.

Kama Griffitts led the Wildcats with 13 points and seven rebounds. Crutchfield added 12 points and LaBrittney Jones scored 10.

Griffitts also posted a team-high seven rebounds while Jones and senior Erica Barnes finished with two blocks each.

"I thought (Kama) was outstanding," Arizona coach Niya Butts said. "She was knocking down shots, shooting the ball with confidence. The rest of the team was feeding off that energy. I thought we were flying around on the defensive end, getting to some balls. I thought she sparked it especially in that first half."

As a team, Arizona went 11 of 12 from the free-throw line and held All-Pac-12 forward Cassie Harberts of USC to two points on 1-of-4 shooting.

"All the credit goes to the team," Butts said. "They played hard. They played hard even though we’ve been short-handed most of the season, but today we came in and we fought. We were physical. We met aggression with aggression. They never quit. We played every play, and we played for 40 minutes. We just came up short."

With 11:06 left, the Women of Troy trailed 44-43 when Cook dished to 6-foot-4 Kate Oliver for a layup that gave USC a 45-44 lead, one that would not be relinquished.

But Arizona certainly came close, as USC didn’t seal the win until Crutchfield’s runner with 30 seconds left and the Wildcats trailing 57-54 hit every part of the rim before falling to the floor. Crook, who finished with 19 points, was then fouled and knocked in her ensuing pair of free throws.

"As a senior, you don’t want your last game to end, so I just know as a captain, I wanted to go out there and just play," Crutchfield said. "We got pretty tired, but we had to keep fighting."