In a whirlwind weekend of ups and downs, the women’s basketball faced No. 9 Oregon on Friday and No. 15 Oregon State on Sunday.
While the team ultimately fell to both, it wasn’t as simple as that. On Friday, the team forced the game into double overtime before falling 80-74. Then, the team made the quick turnaround on Sunday’s game, which wasn’t decided until the final minute when Oregon State sealed the 69-63 victory with an inbound pass for a layup.
If only looking at rankings, the Trojans entered both games as steep underdogs. Yet, USC has been proving that they won’t back down from any fight, leaving head coach Mark Trakh feeling one way.
“[I’m] very proud,” Trakh said. “We played both teams to the wire. The kids just played with a lot of heart against Oregon. We could have won that game and the game [Sunday] was to the wire.”
One of the biggest factors for the Trojans’ ability to stay competitive is that they lead the Pac-12 in steals with an average of 10 per game. While the team has often struggled behind the 3-point line, its ability to force turnovers and more importantly, convert off them, makes up some of the points it’s missing. The team forced 24 turnovers against Oregon and 17 against Oregon State.
“I think it’s great,” Trakh said. “It keeps us in. It appeals our offense, we get points off steals and it disrupts the other teams’ offense, so I’m really proud of what they’re doing.”
The team does more than just get steals, though; it has been remarkably durable. Four starters finished off Friday’s game with 48, 49, 49 and 50 minutes with the double overtime. Then, the same starters came back on Sunday to play close to full or full games.
“We’re tough,” Trakh said. “We get ready for the next game and we played Oregon toe to toe.”
In the end, the Trojans lost both games to top Pac-12 teams, but their performance was more than just the final score.
“I think that the thing is we haven’t had a bad loss all year,” Trakh said. “No one’s blown us out. We had two 14-point games to UCLA, but one was an 8-point game in the fourth quarter and the other was tied with four minutes to go, so we played with everybody. We’ve never not been in a game.”
Even with the disappointment from last weekend, the Trojans are going into this next weekend positive and ready to top off their regular season with wins.