Unfortunately for the CSU women’s basketball team, it only matters who is leading when time runs out.
The Rams suffered an excruciating 59-58 loss Sunday to the University of Southern California in the second round of the women’s preseason National Invitational Tournament. No. 18 CSU was leading by two with seven seconds remaining when Trojan forward Rachel Woodward sunk a three-pointer to give USC the advantage.
This was the only lead in the game for the Trojans, but it was enough to give them the win. Opting not to take a timeout after the go-ahead shot, CSU ran the length of the floor and had a last second opportunity to win the game. Junior shooting guard Jasai Furrucho drove towards the basket and decided to pass it inside to senior center Shannon Strecker.
“I wanted to go to the basket but I saw Shannon open,” said Furrucho.
Her pass was read by Trojan forward Ebony Hoffman, who got the steal and secured a victory, and a place in the NIT semifinals. They will play No. 5 Kansas State on Wednesday with the winner advancing to the championship game to be played on Sunday.
The Rams entered the game on a high after trouncing the University of San Francisco Friday night, 76-58. In that game the Rams took first blood with Elizabeth English sinking two free throws. After that, they never looked back, managing to maintain the lead for the entire game.
Forwards Ashley Augspurger and Joy Jenkins both broke into double figures in scoring with Augspurger posting 19 points and Jenkins racking up a total of 17 points.
“The first half was rough,” said first year head coach, Chris Denker. “It was a slug fest which is to be expected when the teams know what to expect.”
The Rams stepped up in the second half and outscored the Lady Dons 45-31.
“We were a little flat coming out,” Denker said. “Once we stepped up our intensity defensively we gained control of the game.”
CSU had 25 defensive rebounds compared to San Francisco’s 20, and secured their place in the second round.
The win over San Francisco increased CSU’s home winning streak to nine. That abruptly ended in the shocking defeat to the Trojans.
The second round game started the same way as the first with the Rams opening up the scoring with a lay-up by Jenkins. It seemed that the Rams had found a winning formula and were sticking to it, taking a 31-21 lead into the half.
The intensity level was high with the 1,724 fans in attendance smelling victory and a place in the semifinals.
But if anything, it just encouraged USC to dig deep and claw its way back into the game. The Trojans managed to tie the game at 36, 53 and 56, but could never take the lead.
It looked as if CSU’s luck would last through the game, but the Trojans pulled it out with that fateful three-point shot.
“In the huddle we said to watch (Woodward),” Denker said. “I didn’t think that they would try to shoot a three.”