Women of Troy prepare for Pac-12 tournament
For much of 2013, the USC women‚Äôs basketball team has been mired in an ugly losing streak and, collectively, the team has looked toward the Pac-12 tournament as relief to end a disappointing regular season.
Fresh off of a weekend sweep of the Arizona schools in the final series of the regular season, however, the Women of Troy¬† ¬† ¬† (10-19, 7-11 Pac-12) will attempt to continue their newfound momentum as they travel to Seattle, Wash., where they hope to achieve the improbable and secure an NCAA tournament berth with four straight wins.
‚ÄúThis is one and done,‚ÄĚ USC head coach Michael Cooper said. ‚ÄúYou have to do everything to perfection or the best that you can. You hope your defense will help your offense, but if your offense is executing on the right notes you can win some basketball games.‚ÄĚ
USC snapped an eight-game losing streak last weekend by winning both their games in Arizona, beating Arizona (12-17, 4-13 Pac-12) 74-62 on Friday, then beating Arizona State (13-17, 5-13 Pac-12) 67-60 on Sunday.
Junior forward Cassie Harberts, who was selected for the 2012 All-Pac-12 team this week, tallied double-doubles in both games, finishing with 23 points and 11 rebounds against Arizona and 12 points and 10 rebounds against ASU.
Senior forward Christina Marinacci also earned a double-double against the Wildcats, finishing with 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. She scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds against the Sun Devils.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre the underdog in this situation. A lot of teams have already beaten us, and they‚Äôre not expecting us to go out and perform well,‚ÄĚ junior forward Desiree Bradley said. ‚ÄúWe have to come out with confidence, even though we‚Äôve been through a difficult season, and just know we‚Äôre a great team no matter what our record says and come out and compete.‚ÄĚ
The two victories over the weekend came after an 0-8 February, with five losses by single digits and four by five or fewer points. The wins enabled USC to earn the No. 7 seed, pitting them against No. 10 seed Oregon State (10-20, 4-14 Pac-12) in today‚Äôs opening round game at noon. In the two teams‚Äô only matchup of the year, the Women of Troy knocked off the Beavers 56-55 in Corvallis, Ore. If USC wins, it will then face No. 2 seed California (27-2, 17-1 Pac-12) on Friday, March 8 at noon. The Women of Troy lost both games against Cal during the regular season, losing 71-63 in overtime at Berkeley on Jan. 17 and 72-64 at the Galen Center on Feb. 17.
‚ÄúThe good thing about this is we already saw Oregon State, so we kind of know how they are,‚ÄĚ Cooper said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been watching a lot of film of them in their last games against Colorado and Utah. We just have to execute what we‚Äôre going to do with their pick-and-rolls.‚ÄĚ
Last season, the Women of Troy rode a six-game winning streak into the Pac-12 tournament, earning a bye in the quarterfinal as the No. 3 seed. They would then face No. 11 seed Washington State, which had just upset No. 6 seed Oregon State in the first round. The Cougars were ready for USC too, hitting over 50 percent of their 3-pointers en route to a 69-55 win. The Women of Troy, despite the 11th toughest schedule, an RPI of 30 and an 18-12 record, missed the NCAA tournament, which they last made in 2006.
After striking out in the month of February, USC will hope to parlay its perfect start to March into a magical run and end their six-year NCAA tournament drought.