Facing two tough Pac-12 teams this past weekend, the women’s basketball team had to battle both to the bitter end. Clashing with Stanford on Friday and then quickly turning around to face No. 21 Cal on Sunday, the Trojans ultimately fell to both in the last two minutes of play.
“I thought it was a well-played offensive game,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “I am very happy with the effort of my team and very happy with Minyon’s effort tonight. We’re on the road right now, we’re 3 and 5 and we’ve got to figure out a way to get back to .500.”
Taking on Cal is certainly no easy task, especially when Cal’s starting center, junior Kristine Anigwe, is widely considered to be one of the best players in the country. Averaging 17.9 points and 8.8 rebounds a game, Anigwe is strong on the boards and at the 3-point range. Even with an impressive game of 20 points, the Trojans’ strong defense was able to keep her to only 3 points in the second quarter and two rebounds in the first half before she would foul out in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to go inside,” Trakh explained. “I thought Kristen did a good job on her with the help Minyon went down and stole the ball a couple of times, but she is obviously a great player and that was big for us to stay in the game and getting her into foul trouble.”
The Trojans’ defense has been strong throughout the season, but stood out in their games this weekend even with the losses.
With 19 steals and 13 blocks total from the weekend, the team kept its opponents on their toes. More impressive though is the fact that four of the Trojan starters — guards sophomore Minyon Moore, senior Sadie Edwards and junior Aliyah Mazyck, with forward senior Kristen Simon — played 78-80 minutes of two 40-minute games and were still able to fight until the very end.
“I think that since we don’t have a deep, deep bench, I think our starting five is doing a really good job,” Moore said. “And even though we are fatigued we are playing through it because we take it game by game and it’s not about yourself, we play for our team.”
Trakh shared his opinion on the Trojans’ strengths.
“We think we’re a defensive team,” Trakh said. “We wind up holding them to 62 points. I mean we really did a good job in the second half and they scored 27 points in the second half, so that is a pretty good defensive effort from us. We bring our defense all the time, bring it on the road, bring it home, but I think we’re doing a good job on the defensive end.”
With both games coming down to the wire, it was Mazyck and Moore who would stood for the Trojans. Mazyck continued to prove herself a force to be reckoned with on the court, after getting down early in the first quarter against Stanford. She went on to make three 3-pointers in a row, changing the lead and the momentum of the game to allow her team back into the fight. Then, on Sunday, Moore led the charge against Cal with 19 points, three steals and two blocks.
“Aliyah is having a great year and she is doing a great job for us so we’re really proud of the effort she is making, as I am of all the kids,” Trakh said.
Overall, the weekend may not have ended the way USC wanted but in both games, the team fought hard throughout and never backed down.