After losing three games in a row, the Women of Troy hope that a return home in a break from conference play, will help them find their winning ways.
After losing 55-63 at Utah on Saturday. the Women of Troy (10-9, 5-4) will take on the the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (8-11, 3-5) tonight at 7 p.m at the Galen Center. A win over the Gauchos would not improve USC’s conference record, but it could help the Women of Troy find their footing after dropping three consecutive games by eight points or less.
“Right now, it’s not about the other teams. The other teams aren’t beating us. We’re beating ourselves,” USC sophomore forward Cassie Harberts said. “We’re not playing how we normally play, and right now we’re in a funk.”
UCSB enters this game after losing two games in a row, both by four points. The Gauchos have a 3-6 record on the road. USC is 4-2 overall at the Galen Center and 2-0 against nonconference opponents at home.
Earlier in the month, the team was riding a five-game winning streak that pushed them to second in the Pac-12 standings.
Oregon State ended USC’s streak on Jan 21 with a four-point victory, which marked the beginning of USC’s skid. Since then, USC has fallen to fourth in the conference.
Nine and a half minutes into Saturday’s loss, the Utes were scoreless, and USC pulled out to an early 17-0 lead. A blowout victory looked imminent, but Utah fought back, with guard Michelle Plouffe’s 21 second-half points to upset the Women of Troy.
“We need to pick each other up after a shot,” freshman guard Ariya Crook said after scoring a career-high 17 points. “We need to encourage [each] other so we can all be on the same page.”
USC was without senior guard Briana Gilbreath, who sat out because of a knee injury sustained in a 67-69 loss to Colorado last Thursday.
Gilbreath, considered the team’s defensive leader, hopes to rejoin USC in its faceoff against UCSB, who has no players averaging double-digit points and averages only 52.6 points per game.
“Hopefully, we won’t let them have more than that, because I feel like if we get our defensive identity back, we can really lock down,” Harberts said.
The last time the two sides matched up, the Women of Troy overcame an 11-point deficit to defeat the Gauchos 67-64 in the opening round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.