At the midpoint of conference play, the USC women’s basketball team finds itself in second place in the Pac-12.
The team has already eclipsed last year’s 11-win total with nine regular-season games still to play.
The Women of Troy (14-7, 7-2 Pac-12) were trounced by the No. 4 Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. earlier in the week, but the team is looking to get back on a winning streak this weekend when Washington State and Washington come to the Galen Center.
Washington State (11-9, 5-3) will get the first shot at beating the Women of Troy at home on Friday night, which has been a difficult feat for USC’s other opponents this season. USC has yet to lose a conference game at home and has not lost a game at the Galen Center since Dec. 19, when the Saint Mary’s Gaels took down the Women of Troy by a score of 71-55.
Washington (10-9, 3-5), on the other hand, will try to catch the Women of Troy sleeping as the two teams play in a pre-Super Bowl matinee Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Cougars fell to both Oregon and Oregon State on the road by double digits last week.
Guards Lia Galdeira and Tia Presley lead WSU in scoring with 18.6 and 18.4 points per game, respectively, and if the Women of Troy want to pull off a victory, they are going to have to stop WSU’s dynamic backcourt.
The Huskies, who followed their state rival by losing to the Oregon schools in a similar fashion, also feature two great scorers in their backcourt in Jazmine Davis and Kelsey Plum. Davis averages 20 points per game, while Plum adds 19.6.
There were many positive takeaways for USC from their Bay area road trip, arguably their toughest road trip of the year, as the team upset No. 16 Cal, 77-70, behind a career-high 34 points by junior guard Ariya Crook.
Senior forward Cassie Harberts also hit another career milestone on the trip against Stanford, becoming the No. 8 all-time leading scorer in Women of Troy history.
“I like the way things have been going,” Harberts said. “We need to continue it going forward.”
First-year head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke felt that they could use the tough game against the Cardinal as a learning experience for a team that is in a great position to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in eight years.
“We are going to use this as a measuring stick to become the elite team we want to be moving forward,” Cooper-Dyke said. “Now we know what we need to do and how we need to practice in order to become elite.”
Cooper-Dyke, however, stressed how the Women of Troy will take it game by game. This weekend’s pair of contests against two middle-of-the-road Washington teams should test the team’s maturity and serve as a learning experience.
“You learn from your mistakes,” Cooper-Dyke said. “Basketball is about growing. If you are staying the same, then someone is passing you by. We will learn from this and move on. We can’t hold on to it.”
After taking on Washington State and Washington, the Women of Troy will begin preparing to face UCLA on Feb. 8.