After a thrilling 53-52 overtime win against Utah on Thursday night in which senior forward Kristen Simon hit the game-winning 3-pointer with one second left, the Trojans defeated the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to tipoff, the Trojans honored their departing seniors Simon and guards Sadie Edwards and Jordan Adams in front of a packed Galen Center. The three seniors were each given a framed picture of their jersey and had photos taken with their teammates and family members. All three have played integral roles in USC’s success this season as they led the Trojans to a 19-10 record this season.
“[Edwards] came a long way and I think had a great season,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “[Adams], one of my favorite all-time players, I only had her for a year but what a pleasure it was to coach her … [Simon] has come such a long way and not only as a basketball player but she had a great senior year, she almost averages a double-double and the thing I like about her this year is she grew into her leadership position.”
Both teams came out of the game with a determination to win as the game remained close from the start. Junior guard Aliyah Mazyck netted 11 points alone in the first, but the Trojans trailed 11-17 by the end of the first after an 8-0 Colorado run. The Trojans’ sophomore guard Minyon Moore suffered a minor injury but returned to play in the second quarter. The Trojans came out with a 9-3 run to tie it at 20, but the Buffaloes would regain a small 2-point lead by halftime, 27-25. Mazyck had 13 points but the Trojans shot 33.3 percent as a team in the first half. The Buffaloes were led by guard Quinessa Caylao-Do’s 7 points and forward Mya Hollingshed’s 6 points.
The Trojans began the second half on a 7-0 run to retake the lead at 32-27 before extending their lead to 10 at 43-33. The Trojans maintained their lead to eventually settle with a 9-point lead at 49-40. In the fourth, the Trojans jumped out further to a 12-point lead at 58-46, and despite the Buffaloes cutting the lead to as close as 7 points, the Trojans would hold on for a 65-53 win.
“It helped to have [Moore] back on the floor but we talked in the locker room,” Adams said. “This is our season, this is what we want, we want the tournament then we gotta win this game so I think that really lit a fire under us and we just came out and gave it everything we had.”
Mazyck led the Trojans with 24 points, including 5 3-pointers and nine rebounds on an efficient 9-for-18 shooting night. Simon had a double-double to the tune of 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Moore, despite getting injured in the first quarter, put up 15 points and two assists. The Trojans shot just 40.4 percent from the field but outrebounded the Buffaloes 40 to 24, outscored them in the paint 28 to 16 and capitalized on second chance opportunities and transition. The Buffaloes were led by Kennedy Leonard’s 19 points and five assists but the team was held to 38 percent shooting and were outplayed in the third quarter, where the Trojans scored 22 to the Buffaloes’ 13.
“The great thing about our team is that we got some quality wins,” Trakh said. “We haven’t lost to anybody we’re supposed to lose to and we pushed everybody … Every game has been a game they never quit, they have never quit, they’ve been resilient, they fought every single game so I am proud of this group as anybody I have ever coached.”
USC ended its season on a high note, finishing with 19 wins and 10 losses, with a respectable 9-9 in the Pac-12. The Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament begins on Thursday in Seattle, Wash.