The game wasn’t pretty and neither was the outcome.
The Women of Troy (13-11, 7-6) dropped their fifth consecutive game, this time losing to the Washington Cougars (7-18, 2-12) at the Galen Center, 64-52, spoiling the home debut of redshirt junior guard Jacki Gemelos.
“We started the game off strong, but if you don’t play with some enthusiasm and some determination, then you’re going to get beat,” USC coach Michael Cooper said.
Not only did Gemelos make her Galen Center debut, but another noticeable lineup change for the Women of Troy was freshman forward Christina Marinacci replacing starting senior guard Hailey Dunham.
“We wanted to get bigger,” Cooper said. “I think Christina did a good job of going to the boards, and she set the tempo early for us.”
In the first half, defense reigned supreme as both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket.
The Washington State Cougars shot just under 40 percent, but the Women of Troy managed to outdo their opponents by shooting a shade under 30 percent.
The Women of Troy jumped out to an early nine-point lead, limiting the Cougars to one shot on offense, while also giving themselves plenty of opportunities on the offensive end.
Even though the Women of Troy managed to control the glass, they missed second and third chance opportunities on the offensive end and 14 first-half turnovers allowed the Cougars to hang around and take a three-point lead into halftime.
One bright spot for the Women of Troy during the first half was when Gemelos stepped onto the Galen Center court for the first time in her USC career.
And she would immediately make an impact.
Gemelos grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled to half-court and zipped a no-look pass through the Cougars defense to junior center Kari LaPlante.
“It felt good,” Gemelos said. “I’m just playing basketball.”
The second half was no different as both teams engaged in a defensive struggle.
The Women of Troy managed to tie the score four different times early in the second half but were never able to take the lead, and they continued to struggle from the field.
“It’s up to us to knock down open shots because we got every shot we wanted,” Gemelos said. “We just didn’t knock them down.”
For the rest of the game, the Cougars managed to stay ahead and pull away from the Women of Troy in the end to get their second win in conference play.
“I don’t think the energy was there tonight,” Gemelos said. “We better bring it Saturday night because this losing streak is getting old fast.”
Senior guard/forward Aarika Hughes managed to grab 11 rebounds to lead the Women of Troy in the rebounding department.
The Cougars were led by freshman guard KiKi Moore, who scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and sophomore guard April Cook, who chipped in 18 points.
Up next for the Women of Troy is a matchup with the Washington Huskies Saturday night at the Galen Center.
“I expect us to play with a lot more tempo,” Marinacci said. “All of us are sick of losing, and we can play a lot better.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.