Women’s basketball looks to continue momentum

Sophomore guard Minyon Moore was a standout last year, earning Pac-12 All-Freshman honors. This year, she is one of three Trojans to average 15 or more points per game. Photo by Jo Danielle Esteban | Daily Trojan

After a huge comeback win against Oregon State Sunday, the women’s basketball team looks to keep its momentum going as they head to the mountains to take on Colorado and Utah.

In their last game, the Trojans struggled to keep up with Oregon State until they came alive in the second half to secure the win. They are hoping to replicate the intensity, energy and defense of that second half  to come away with two victories this weekend.

“We got the ball to who we needed to get the ball to, we penetrated, we drew help, we got the ball to [Kristen Simon] for some easy finishes, Minyon [Moore] made the free throws down the stretch and Aliyah [Mazyck] had a big 3-pointer,” senior guard Sadie Edwards said. “So I think we take that and just being disciplined. We didn’t force, we didn’t rush shots, we moved the ball, we trusted the system, so I think if we do that it’ll give us the chance to win.”

USC forced 13 steals in the important victory. They gave up just 61 points, the lowest number the Trojans have allowed in Pac-12 play this season.

“We needed to win a game like that,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “[A game] where we grinded and came back and executed in the last four minutes. I’m really proud of what the kids did.”

Despite their 1-3 record in conference play, the Trojans have been putting up strong numbers in contests against quality opponents. Senior forward Kristen Simon, junior guard Aliyah Mazyck and sophomore guard Minyon Moore are all averaging 15 or more points per game, with Simon averaging 17.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. In contrast, Colorado and Utah’s leading scorers, Kennedy Leonard and Daneesha Provo, are averaging 14.9 and 14.3 points per game, respectively. Even with its upset win over No. 16 Oregon State in the rearview mirror, the team still possesses its fair share of naysayers.

“We were picked to finish eighth so we’re playing with house money,” Trakh said. “We just go out there and play and hopefully beat some people. We’re a confident underdog right now. We just go out and play and say, ‘Hey, you’re supposed to beat us, all you seven teams ahead of us’ … so I think the kids play relaxed and they play to win, instead of playing not to lose. That enables our kids to play to win.”

As the team is battling on the court every week to prove disbelievers wrong, they also are required to keep up with their classes. Getting time off from school during winter break allowed the Trojans to focus solely on their basketball games, but as the new semester begins, academics returns as a major component of the players’ schedules. However, the team says the start of classes does not affect its focus or conviction in what it will try to bring to every game for the rest of the season.

“Nothing really changes,” Moore said. “Obviously, academics are very stressed here at USC and our coaches put a stress on academics to make sure we’re doing well on both the court and in the classroom, so nothing is really going to be any different. We have the support from USC, from our staff …  it is going to be extra homework and whatnot, but we will still have the same game plan and the same focus.”

USC will take on Colorado on Friday at 6 p.m. and Utah at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Both games will be televised on Pac-12 Los Angeles and Pac-12 Networks.