After kicking off the year on the right foot with two road wins against UC Davis and Fresno State last week, the USC women’s basketball team takes on the San Diego State Aztecs today in its home opener at the Galen Center.
USC (2-0) got its 27th season-opening victory on Friday against Utah State as the team battled back from a second-half deficit to triumph, 64-55.
The Women of Troy were able to carry that momentum into Fresno, where they once again came out on top by a nine-point margin, 63-54.
Neither of these wins, however, came easily for the Women of Troy, as both games were decided in the final minutes. USC performed well down the stretch to prevail.
“I am very proud of our team because we fought through all the difficulties the game presented, finished the game and came away with two road victories, which is not easy to do,” USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said.
In beating Davis and Fresno State, USC was able to avenge two losses from last season.
“These were two tough games, as they presented matchup problems for us, but we grinded it out,” Cooper-Dyke said.
With early success on the road, the Women of Troy have started 2-0 for the first time since the 2005-2006 season, which was also the last time that the program reached the NCAA Tournament.
Senior forward and team captain Cassie Harberts, who recorded her first double-double of the year against Fresno State with 13 points and 12 rebounds, mentioned that the Women of Troy’s two resilient wins came as a result of Cooper-Dyke emphasizing a new mentality for the team.
“We have a much more aggressive mentality in that we never let up or backed down,” Harberts said. “Instead, we fought back and finished the game.”
The team’s focus is now set on San Diego State, which narrowly dropped its season opener on the road against Sacramento State in a 93-89 loss.
In last year’s matchup, the Aztecs handily defeated the Women of Troy 80-46. After avenging last season’s losses, USC will set out to do the same against San Diego State.
“We are mainly just focused on playing the game we know how to play and not beating ourselves,” Harberts said.
In preparation for the Aztecs, the Women of Troy practiced sets against a variety of different defensive schemes that San Diego State could play on Wednesday.
“[San Diego State] plays a lot of different defenses, but we want to be prepared for their zone, man or anything that they throw at us,” Cooper-Dyke said. “We want to be able to execute offensively and defensively and be the best Women of Troy team that we can be.”
Wednesday night’s matchup will also be Cooper-Dyke’s official home coaching debut at Galen Center, which she hopes will develop into a real home-court advantage for the team.
“I am excited to be home and I want us to be able to protect our home court,” Cooper-Dyke said.
Tipoff at the Galen Center is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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