Women of Troy travel to Washington

After dropping three out of four games during a four-game homestand, the Women of Troy will head north this weekend to take on the Washington State Cougars on Friday and the Washington Huskies on Sunday.

The Trojans (8-13, 5-5                            Pac-12) are looking to recover from their sluggish efforts at home last weekend after losing 63-60 to Utah on Feb. 1 and 65-49 to Colorado at the Galen Center on Feb. 3. USC led at halftime in both games before being outscored, outshot and outplayed by their opponents in the second half.

In the loss against Utah, sophomore guard Ariya Crook and junior forward Cassie Harberts combined for 29 of USC’s 34        second-half points, finishing with 20 and 19 points, respectively. The Trojans, however, could not stop Utah’s hot hand in the second half, as the Utes shot 57 percent from the field.

“We are on a quest to put together 40 minutes of good basketball on both offense and defense,” USC head coach Michael Cooper said. “It’s going to take more than one half of good basketball to win the game, and I feel that as a team, we have learned that.”

The story of the Colorado game was turnovers, as USC committed 13 turnovers in the second half and 19 total for the game. The Trojans lost their 31-26 halftime lead and threw away an opportunity for its first win against a ranked team; Colorado was ranked No. 22 at the time.

“We need to value the basketball a lot more than we usually do,” Cooper said. “When we beat ourselves, it’s very easy for other teams to beat us because they don’t have to put forward the giant effort that it takes to beat us.”

This Washington road trip comes at a good time for the Trojans, as they defeated both schools in their first meetings at the Galen Center earlier in the year.

Washington State (8-13, 4-6          Pac-12) is coming off two big wins last week against Arizona State and Arizona. The team is led by freshman guard Lia Galdeira, who is averaging 14.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

In their first meeting on Jan. 13, the Women of Troy took Washington State down to the wire. Tied at 59 with just four seconds left, Crook was fouled and knocked down two clutch free throws to take down the Cougars, 61-59. With the win, the Trojans improved to 4-0 in Pac-12 play — their best start since the 2004-05 season.

Since that emotional win, the Trojans have struggled to find their groove, losing five out of their last six games and dropping to the middle of the pack in the conference, as they enter the second half of Pac-12 play.

“Going on the road, these two games are going to be very important for us,” Harberts said. “I feel that if we come out and play not only one but two good halves of basketball, we should be able to come out on top.”

The Washington Huskies               (16-5, 8-2) are currently on a six-game winning streak after also taking down the Arizona schools last week. They defeated Arizona 74-65 and Arizona State 74-61. If the Trojans are going to stop one player, it needs to be Jazmine Davis, who had 37 points in their last meeting. Davis is the Huskies’ top scorer with 19.8 points per game.

“She’s definitely a scorer, but if she scores 45 or so points and we still win the game, I’ll be fine with that,” Cooper said. “However, we are definitely going to put up a better defensive front up against her.”

Washington received votes in the AP poll this week, but is currently unranked. In their first meeting on Jan. 11, USC rolled over the Huskies 81-72, putting up a season-high in points. Four players finished in double figures.

USC-WSU is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Friday, while USC-UW is on tap for a 1 p.m. matinee.