Women’s basketball finds a late spark

Sophomore forward Ja’Tavia Tapley (right) led the Women of Troy defensively over the weekend. Photo by Katie Chin | Daily Trojan

Despite a 12-point deficit going into the half, the women’s basketball team overcame No. 16 Oregon State to claim its first victory of the regular season. The Trojans struggled to keep pace with the Beavers offensively in the first half. However, the Trojans’ defense came alive, flipping the momentum of the game and allowing the Women of Troy to finish with a 65-61 victory.

While the whole team stepped up its defense after the half, it was junior guard Aliyah Mazyck who stood out. Picking up the guard early and laying on heavy pressure, Mazyck forced three consecutive turnovers.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “We’re down fifteen points and I told them, we just have to grind. Halftime was just positive. Coach Glover made a great adjustment putting Aliyah on the point guard and then we got great defense from Sadie [Edwards], Minyon [Moore], and Kristen [Simon], Jordan [Adams], they all played really, really well.”

The turnovers added fuel to the growing spark of senior forward Kristen Simon’s free throws, ultimately leading to a 12-0 run for the Trojans that would take them within four points of Oregon State by the end of the third. Even though it was neck and neck for most of the fourth, the change of momentum at the end of the third energized the Trojans through the end.

“You could feel it,” Trakh explained. “You could feel them not cutting as hard … I can’t tell you how well-coached that team is. It’s extremely well coached and I have to give credit to our kids that we disrupted them a little, but you got a sense that we got some easy baskets and we got some steals, some layups, that got us going. It was really important.”

With Oregon State shooting 50 percent from the 3-point range to USC’s 28.6 percent, it was clear that the Trojans were going to have their work cut out for them in the second half. Even though Simon, who finished the game with 21 points and seven rebounds, was putting away shots in the paint, the Beavers’ seven 3-pointers were making it difficult to catch up. However, the Trojans never lost hope.

“Of course we were a little down because we were down by 13, but one thing I know about our team is that we don’t give up,” sophomore guard Minyon Moore said. “We don’t really see numbers, like we see we are down by 13, but we still play like it’s a close game. Our team doesn’t get flustered or nothing like that. So, halftime was just our Coach Erica Hughes said ‘Forget about the first half. It’s a new half. Go out there and play your game.’ And, I think we did that and executed down the stretch.”

Senior guard Sadie Edwards added 17 points in the victory.

“We made an adjustment, we stayed together, we stayed in it,”  Edwards said. “We could have dropped our heads getting down by fifteen points at one point, but we believe in each other and our coaching staff believed in us.

In the end, it was the Trojans’ defense that changed the momentum of the game, but it was the team’s perseverance that brought the Women of Troy the victory. After Moore’s free throw granted her team a 2-point lead with 29 seconds remaining, the Trojans’ defense kept the Beavers out, forcing them to foul. Oregon State would only be disappointed when Moore converted both free throws to seal the deal for the Trojans.

“I think moving forward, we needed to get a win,” Edwards explained. “and now, I think more importantly, we’ve got experience. Down the stretch we executed, we got stops and scores and I think that’s huge for us moving forward.”