Fast Break

What went right?: The Buffs once again turned up the defense in the second half and held USC to seven field goals after halftime.

What went wrong?: CU started sluggishly and played most of the game from behind costing the Buffs energy for crunch time. CU also went 0-for-9 behind the 3-point line and missed 12 free throws.

Star of the game: USC guard Ariya Crook scored 18 points with six assists. Made the go-ahead basket in the final minute.

What's next?: Colorado will face UCLA in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament on Thursday in Seattle at 1 p.m.

The second-half magic the Colorado women's basketball team produced in its previous two games didn't fully materialize Sunday in the regular season finale against USC.

The Buffs held the Trojans to just one field goal in the first 8 minutes, 55 seconds of the second half, but it proved to be just enough for CU to recover from a 12-point halftime deficit before the Trojans re-established a lead.

USC spoiled senior day for CU guards Ashley and Brittany Wilson and center Rachel Hargis with a 66-59 victory.

"How we came out in the first half really hurt us, I felt like," CU coach Linda Lappe said. "We did a good job in the second half, but you can't spot a good team 12 points in one half. Ultimately, we ran out of gas at the end and ran out of a little bit of time."

Ariya Crook, a high school teammate of the Wilson sisters, gave the Trojans the lead for good by hitting a pair of free throws in the final minute. Crook led USC with 18 points and six assists.

The Trojans managed to win despite committing 22 turnovers. CU gave the ball back with 20 turnovers of its own.

Despite a valiant comeback effort from two separate double-digit deficits, this one ended the way too many other close games have for the Buffs this season. USC simply out-executed CU in crunch time.

The Buffs (16-13, 6-12) took a one-point lead on a layup by Brittany Wilson with 1:22 remaining. It proved to be their final basket. The Trojans went 6-for-6 from the foul line and Crook made a shot in the final minute to seal the win.

"I wouldn't say anything went wrong," Brittany Wilson said. "We had to buckle down and we fought and that's all that matters. Sometimes things just don't go your way and that's what happened. It just simply didn't go our way."

The Buffs held their past two opponents - Arizona and UCLA - to five field goals combined in the second halves of those games. The Wildcats and Bruins managed a total of 22 combined points in those second halves.

USC (18-12, 11-7) proved to be considerably more determined and capable on the offensive end. Despite not shooting well in the second half, the Trojans consistently got to the free throw line throughout the game, making 26 of 34 attempts.

The Buffs failed to make a 3-point shot again, going 0-for-9 and missed 12 free throws.

"I think we found other ways," Brittany Wilson said. "I think we drove to the basket. We didn't hit free throws. That was our lack of focus. But I wouldn't say it's all about the three. We hit inside 15-footers, we went inside the lane, we got our posts involved and I think that was great for us."

Colorado's trio of seniors combined to score 31 points with 11 rebounds. Brittany Wilson scored 15, Ashley Wilson had 10 and Hargis finished with six. They shed tears together on the court during postgame senior speeches.

The Buffs played without junior forward Jen Reese who suffered a broken bone in her shoulder in the first half of Friday's win over UCLA. Reese's season is over because she is expected to need at least 4-6 weeks to recover. She is the team's second leading scorer.

Colorado will play UCLA in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle on Thursday. CU won two of its final three regular season games.

"I think we have some more positive energy going into the tournament," Hargis said. "Before we were kind of down and didn't know what we could do. But we know now that we can be a great team. We just have to buckle down and focus and play the whole 40 minutes and not start off so badly."

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Kyle Ringo at or ringok@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/kyleringo.