USC's Season Likely Over After Losing to Washington State
The tears on Briana Gilbreath's face said it all.
The senior captain of the USC women's basketball team broke down at the postgame press conference, showing so much emotion that head coach Michael Cooper walked over to her to give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
The third-seeded Women of Troy were upset by the 11th-seeded Cougars 65-50 on Thursday night, a disappointing outcome that will likely keep USC out of the Big Dance.
"This is just a hard moment to talk about because our dreams and visions were much further than this, but it ends today, but I'm very very proud of these young ladies and the effort they gave today," Cooper said following the loss.
Cooper was not the only one showing signs of defeat in the room. His players also seemed well aware of the fact that a tournament bid is likely not going to come.
"It's not a good feeling not seeing your name on TV," said forward Christina Marinacci, who added 13 points and also seemed to be holding back tears at times during the press conference.
The numbers for USC on the night were disappointing to say the least. The team shot just 26.2 percent on the night and turned the ball over 17 times. Senior guard Ashley Corral only scored five points, which were all in the opening minutes and were in fact USC's first five points of the game. Washington State, on the other hand, shot 40 percent.
"They had a little bit more intensity, a little bit more fire, a little bit more energy, an little bit more consistency," said Gilbreath of Washington State. "They looked really good out there tonight, but I wasn't surprised. Washington State is a team that can do things like that on any given night."
It looks like it is the end for USC. The Women of Troy were considered a bubble team entering the game and almost had to win at least a game, if not two, in the Pac-12 Tournament to earn a spot in the field of 64. Cooper stated he likely would not accept a bid to the WNIT. The Women of Troy opted for that path last season and made it all the way to the championship game before falling to Toledo. But in the wake of defeat and tears, there were still some positive signs.
"We went through a lot this season, and for us to come together and do some of the things that we did is absolutely phenomenal," said Gilbreath. "We really came together as a family, and I can't ask for anything more except heart, and every single night that we played, we left it all out on the floor."
"Despite everything, I'm happy to say that I'm a part of this team," Marinacci added.
Cooper made it a point to praise his players, including Gilbreath, who ended the night, and likely her college career, with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
"I am not disappointed. I am not anything other than very, very honored and proud of our players that played all year long," Cooper said.
With Friday's loss, USC ends the season 18-12. The team will learn if it did receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament during Monday's Selection Show, which starts at 4 p.m. on ESPN.