The USC women’s basketball team lost its seventh straight game on Tuesday night, falling 68-54 against No. 17 UCLA at the Galen Center.
USC (8-18, 5-10 Pac-12), which has lost 10 out of its last 11 games after starting Pac-12 play 4-0, was dominated by the Bruins from the start and trailed by as many as 27 points.
“UCLA came out and played extremely well, and I don’t think that we came out and played as hard as we should have,” USC head coach Michael Cooper said.
The Women of Troy were plagued by mistakes on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. USC had 21 turnovers, four more than their season average of 17. UCLA, however, was only able to produce 12 points off that large amount of turnovers.
The team shot a combined 28.3 percent from the field, making only 17 of 60 shots over the course of the game. That stood in stark contrast to the Bruins, who shot 42.5 percent from the field. USC was also dismal from long range, shooting 2-18 from the three-point arc for 11.1 percent shooting. In contrast, UCLA shot a solid 4-10 for 40 percent from three-point distance.
There wasn’t much of an equal distribution for USC scoring-wise, as junior forward Cassie Harberts led the team with 17 points along with nine rebounds, barely missing out on a double-double. Sophomore guard Kiki Alofaituli dropped in 11 points of her own, while sophomore guard Ariya Cook really struggled to find her groove, shooting a rough 4-19 from the field for only 10 points. Besides those three, no other player finished with more than seven points.
The Women of Troy did not help themselves out on the boards either, being outrebounded by the Bruins, 49-40. USC also allowed a staggering 22 second-chance points off of 21 offensive rebounds.
“We had some collapses on defense and they killed us on the offensive boards that led to a lot of second chance points,” senior forward Christina Marinacci said.
UCLA (20-6, 11-4) was led by forward Atonye Nyingfia, who had 22 points off a very efficient 11-14 shooting. The Bruins had two other players in double figures, as guard Thea Lemberger added 12 points, while forward Jasmine Dixon put in 10 points.
Efficiency was the name of the game for the Bruins coming off two tough losses against Cal and Stanford, as 44 of their 68 points came in the paint.
“Without guards knocking down shots from the outside, the paint then opens up for our frontline and those feeds to our post players become easier, allowing for easy shots closer to the basket,” UCLA head coach Cori Close said.
The Bruins led USC from the start and never compromised that lead, taking a 34-19 advantage at halftime. They pulled ahead by as many as 27 points in the second half before USC finally picked up the defense through a full-court press. Another bright spot for the Women of Troy was their ability to get to the free-throw line, shooting 18 of 27 from the charity stripe. UCLA only shot two of six, making for a large disparity in the free-throw department.
“This is another loss that we are going to have to overcome,” Cooper said. “We are going to make our adjustments for Sunday’s game and I think that it is going to be more effort than anything. We will have a better game plan and a bigger surprise for them going there.”
After being swept by the Women of Troy last year, UCLA looks to return the favor to USC, as they try to complete the sweep at home on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.