COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)—Sydney Carter calmly swished a 3-pointer from the right of the top of the key to lift No. 10 Texas A&M to a rousing 71-70 comeback victory over Southern California on Sunday.
From Carter’s perspective, the senior guard’s clutch contribution with 10 seconds remaining was overdue.
“It was about time I finally stepped up and hit a 3-pointer for my team,” Carter said, grinning.
Until that point, she had made 5 of 31 this season, including missing her first four 3-point attempts against the Trojans.
USC (4-5) led 69-61 with 2:34 remaining before the defending national champions mounted the comeback that was capped by Carter’s shot. A 3-point attempt by USC’s Ashley Corral with 4 seconds remaining missed and the Aggies (8-2) had their 47th consecutive nonconference home win.
“We’re not usually behind here at home,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. “And as I told the team before the game, we’re proud of that streak.”
A jumper by A&M point guard Adrienne Pratcher tightened the gap to 69-63 and ignited the comeback with 2:15 left. Pratcher followed with another jumper that made it 69-65 with 1:37 remaining. Pratcher, a junior guard, finished with career-highs in points (22), assists (9) and steals (5).
“She set the tempo for the ball game,” Blair said. “That was the best game she’s ever played.”
A&M senior guard Tyra White, who scored 17 points, kept the comeback alive by making one of two free throws with 1:04 left. A layup by Carter with 24 seconds remaining closed the lead USC had enjoyed since late in the first half to 69-68. Corral then made one of two free throws to give the Trojans a 70-68 lead with 19 seconds remaining.
The Aggies had made only 2 of 8 3-pointers until Carter’s clutch offering.
USC had built its second-half lead on a collective hot hand from the outside. The Trojans, who entered the game shooting 31.3 percent from 3-point range, hit 52.9 percent of their 3-pointers (9 of 17) in nearly pulling off the upset.
“What a basketball game,” USC coach Michael Cooper said. “We came up just 4 or 5 seconds short of winning it. We showed if we battle and fight we can stay competitive with top 10 teams.”
Pratcher led the Aggies in scoring for the first time this season, while Corral led the Trojans with 16 points.
“I was attacking on offense,” said Pratcher, who scored 17 points in the second half. “Once I got my teammates involved early, that opened up shots for me late.”
A&M used its advantage inside to stay within striking distancing in outscoring USC 42-18 in the paint.
USC guard Jacki Gemelos left the game with 3:37 remaining in the first half with a left knee injury.
Gemelos, who entered the game averaging 11.6 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds, writhed on the court and sobbed in the hushed arena after driving the lane and falling under the basket. She spent the second half on the bench with her leg heavily wrapped and will undergo further evaluation once the team returns to Los Angeles.
Gemelos, a senior, was one of the nation’s top recruits out of Stockton, Calif., six years ago, but has fought knee injuries throughout her career.
“It’s not looking good, but we’re hoping for the best for her,” said Cooper, who cried while discussing Gemelos’ most recent misfortune.