At this point in the season, it’s all about who has the hot hand.
This unofficial law of March basketball bodes well for the Women of Troy. Currently riding a season-high six-game win streak, USC is liking its chances to make a deep run in this year’s Pac-12 tournament.
“Everything is starting to click for us,” senior guard Briana Gilbreath said. “It’s all about putting it all together as one team, and hopefully we can keep that going.”
Though that sort of confidence is invaluable at any point in the season, it is almost a necessity during postseason play.
One bad night and the Women of Troy know that their season could be over.
“Our tournament started a few weeks ago,” Gilbreath said, alluding to the team’s mentality following a loss to Stanford that preceded its current win streak. “Right now, we’re trying to go win a championship, and we can’t afford to lose any games.”
Thanks to its current streak, USC shot up the Pac-12 standings during the final month of the regular season. After the loss to Stanford dropped their conference record to 6-6, the Women of Troy caught fire thanks to contributions from numerous players, including junior forward Christina Marinacci, who is coming off a stellar performance this past weekend against the Washington schools. She was rewarded by being named Pac-12 Player of the Week.
“You can really tell that [the team is playing well] by the way we practice,” Marinacci said. “Hopefully we’ll carry it into the next game, whether we get Oregon State or Washington State.”
USC’s ascent to the top of the standings was rewarded with a first round bye, but the team hopes that the extra day’s rest does not affect its game.
“For us, we need to just focus on what we’re doing,” Marinacci said. “I don’t think any other team can beat us, but we can definitely beat ourselves.”
The key to USC’s success during its run has been defense. The Women of Troy have held opponents to under 60 points in four of the last five games.
The Women of Troy will play Washington State, a team that finished 11th in the conference and won just five league games, entered the Pac-12 tournament having lost eight of its past nine games. The most recent of those losses was to USC on March 3.
Tipoff for Thursday’s game is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at the Galen Center.