The USC women’s basketball team hopes to bounce back from a pair of tough losses against top-10 conference opponents as it takes on the Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday at 7 p.m. and the University of Arizona Wildcats on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Women of Troy (7-10, 4-2 in the Pac-12) competed until the end against both No. 7 Cal and No. 6 Stanford, losing 71-63 to the Golden Bears in overtime and 75-66 to the Cardinal. The Golden Bears came back from a six-point deficit to force the game into overtime, then held USC without a field goal in the extra period. Junior forward Cassie Harberts scored 15 points for USC, while junior forward Kate Oliver added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Cal’s forward Gennifer Brandon finished with 23 points (15 in the second half) and 26 rebounds, while guard Layshia Clarendon added 27 points (six in overtime).
USC overcame a 33-20 deficit at halftime to cut Stanford’s advantage to as low as six points, but was unable to take the lead, despite scoring 46 points in the second half. Harberts finished with 21 points, her 18th straight game with double-digit scoring this season, while sophomore guard Ariya Crook added 18 and sophomore forward Alexyz Vaioletama scored 10 points. Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds, while Joslyn Tinkle scored 15 points.
“I think we’re at a really good place and time right now during conference,” Harberts said. “We went up there 4-0, so I thought that was a really good start. We had a chance to take two of the top-10 teams down, and I think even though we came up short in both games, it showed true character in who we are right now. We don’t give up.”
Arizona State (10-8, 2-4 Pac-12) and Arizona (11-6, 3-3 Pac-12) are both coming off a pair of games against No. 20 Colorado (15-2, 4-2 Pac-12) and Utah (10-7, 1-5 Pac-12).
Colorado beat both Arizona State and Arizona, winning 57-43 and 79-36, respectively. The Utes, meanwhile, defeated the Sun Devils 66-46 (their first Pac-12 win of the season) and lost to Arizona, 62-58.
The Sun Devils are led by forwards Janae Fulcher and Joy Burke. Fulcher leads the team in scoring with 11.5 points per game to go along with 5.1 rebounds. Burke is averaging 7.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Senior guard Davellyn White leads the Wildcats with 16.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while junior guard Kama Griffitts is averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
“I think we’re more focused right now on the short-term goals,” associate head coach Daron Park said. “We’ve taken the mentality right now that the next game on our schedule is the most important game of the season. That’s the way we’re preparing. That’s what our approach is for, so right now, Arizona State on Friday night is the most important game of the season.”
USC swept both Arizona and Arizona State last season, winning 60-48 and 59-53 in two matchups against the Sun Devils, while defeating the Wildcats by scores of 72-67 and 78-62.