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WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Cassie Harberts carries USC to a Pac-10 women's tournament victory

Freshman forward scores 31 points in a 78-66 win over Washington State. Arizona, Arizona State and California also advance.

March 09, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC forward Cassie Harberts makes a shot during the Trojans' 78-66 victory over Washington State in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament on Wednesday at the Galen Center.
USC forward Cassie Harberts makes a shot during the Trojans' 78-66… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire )

Cassie Harberts had never scored more than 18 points for USC.

The freshman forward from San Clemente entered the Pacific 10 Conference women's basketball tournament averaging just more than nine points a game.

But on Wednesday, Harberts carried the fifth-seeded Trojans, scoring 31 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in a 78-66 victory over Washington State at the Galen Center.

"I never thought I'd get this in college," Harberts said of eclipsing 30 points.

There were hints that the 6-foot-2 Harberts was capable of a breakout performance. She scored 25 points a game last season at San Clemente High and played for the under-18 U.S. national team last summer. She had posted double-doubles twice this season.

Harberts' 31 points were the most scored by a USC player since 2006 and helped improve the Trojans' record to 19-11. USC will have the opportunity to reach the important 20-win mark when its plays Arizona in the quarterfinals Thursday.

USC Coach Michael Cooper and several other Pac-10 coaches said that 20 victories would put conference teams in the conversation for berths in the NCAA tournament. Arizona gained its 20th win by defeating Oregon earlier Wednesday.

"That seems like the magic number," Cooper said after the victory over Washington State. "It seems like when you get 20 wins you put it more into your hands than the [NCAA tournament selection] committee's hands."

USC defeated Arizona in January at the Galen Center and lost to the Wildcats last month at Tucson.

The Trojans should be bolstered by the return of guard Ashley Corral, who did not play Wednesday because she was serving the final game of a two-game suspension.

Arizona 90, Oregon 89: The fourth-seeded Wildcats blew an 18-point second-half lead and fell behind with just over two minutes left, but came back to win in a game with the highest scoring in tournament history.

Forward Soana Lucet and guard Davellyn Whyte each scored 23 points and forward Ify Ibekwe had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Arizona (20-10).

Oregon guard Ariel Thomas scored a game-high 29 points.

Arizona State 50, Oregon State 44: Guard Dymond Simon scored 13 points and guard Tenaya Watson added nine as the third-seeded Sun Devils improved to 20-9.

Arizona State led, 27-20, at halftime and extended its lead to 15 points before Oregon State began chipping away at the margin.

California 58, Washington 48: Guard Layshia Clarendon scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds and center Talia Caldwell scored 11 points and had 13 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Golden Bears (16-14).

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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