As if it were a video game, Destiny Littleton’s game-tying three-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation earned the USC women’s basketball team an extra life.
But the Trojans ruined it. USC would have to wait another year for its first NCAA tournament win since 2006.
Despite a record-breaking effort from Rayah Marshall, the eighth-seeded Trojans were knocked out of the tournament’s first round by No. 9 South Dakota State, losing 62–57 in overtime to Virginia Tech at Cassel Coliseum on Friday night.
The Trojans (21–10) held the Jackrabbits (29–5) to their fourth-lowest scoring total of the season, but USC’s defensive efforts weren’t enough. South Dakota State has now won 22 straight games and will face host and No. 1 seed Virginia Tech on Sunday.
In addition to her double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds, Marshall hit seven shots, making her the owner of USC’s single-season program record for blocks. The record was previously set in the 1992–93 season by Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie, who had 95. Marshall finished the season with 98.
Littleton scored 18 points and Kady Sissoko scored 10 for USC.
South Dakota State was powered by two-time Summit League Player of the Year Maia Selland, who finished with 29 points and nine rebounds. Paige Meyer chipped in 16 points.
USC and South Dakota State were evenly matched in most aspects of the game, but the Trojans lost the rebounding battle by six, missed five free throws, and shot 4% worse from the floor than the Jackrabbits. Those were the razor-thin margins by which the contest was decided.
The Trojans opened the game on a 12–2 run to take an early lead over the Jackrabbits. South Dakota State – which entered the contest with the nation’s 10th-best scoring offense at 79.4 points per game – shot just 2 of 12 from the floor in the first quarter.
South Dakota State overcame that deficit in the second quarter, and took a seven-point lead in the third.
After trailing, USC put together a 9–2 run in the fourth quarter and the two sides swapped the lead before Littleton’s timely shot sent it into the extra period. Sealand started the overtime with a 9–2 run of his own to put a three-possession cushion between the Jackrabbits and the Trojans.
USC will lose at least a pair of starters this season in Littleton and Sissoko, who have exhausted their eligibility. But No. 1 overall recruit JuJu Watkins will arrive next season to help Marshall and the rest.