The Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament began yesterday in Seattle as four first-round games tipped off throughout Thursday. The 7th-seed USC faced off against 10th-seed Washington State and edged out the Cougars 47-44 in a tight, low-scoring contest.
Both teams came out with tough defense as USC forced four Washington State turnovers in the first five minutes while Washington State limited USC to just 2-for-9 shooting as the Cougars took an early 6-4 lead. By the end of the quarter, the Cougars led just 7-6 over the Trojans as both teams had trouble putting the ball in the basket.
The Trojans went on an 8-2 run in the second period to go ahead 16-12 and would settle with an 18-16 lead at halftime; USC’s junior guard Aliyah Mazyck led all scorers with 10 points in the first half.
“I think we just gotta be patient,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “We’re not taking good shots, we’re forcing a lot of shots and our shot selection just needs to get a lot better.”
Washington State took back the lead on a 6-2 early run and later led 27-24 following a Louise Brown 3-pointer. However, the Trojans would storm back to take the lead on the heels of a 9-0 run and solid defense. The Trojans would lead 35-31 at the end of the 3rd period.
Despite losing the lead briefly to the Cougars, the Trojans would control and lead 39-36 to start the 4th. They would take a 6-point lead following freshman guard Minyon Moore’s pull-up 3-pointer, but the Cougars would cut the lead back down to 3. In crunch time, senior guard Sadie Edwards split her free throws to put the Trojans up 4. But on the other end, Nike McClure capitalized on an and-1 opportunity to cut the Trojans’ lead down to 45-44. Edwards would miss a baseline jumper with seven seconds left but Kristen Simon secured the offensive rebound before getting fouled with two seconds. The Trojans would score a layup to end the game with a 47-44 victory over the Cougars.
“It’s defense, we played great defense,” Trakh said. “I think [Edwards] did a nice job, [Mazyck], [Simon], [Moore] was big down the stretch so I think it was just, everybody played defense tonight, it was great. This is our 20th win, I don’t care if we’re playing the Golden State Warriors tomorrow, we’re gonna have fun!”
Moore and Mazyck led the Trojans with 16 and 14 points, respectively. While the team struggled shooting from the floor with a 31 percent shooting rate, the team played great defense. Simon led the team in rebounds with 12, including the critical offensive rebound that sealed the game for USC. USC outrebounded Washington State 40-32, including 14-7 on the offensive glass.
“When the going got tough, we were just saying: ‘stick together, keep playing our game,’” Moore said.
On Friday, the Trojans face off against 2nd-seeded Stanford at 6 p.m. in the quarterfinals. On two previous occasions, the Stanford Cardinal defeated the Trojans in close affairs as they beat the Trojans 72-65 on New Year’s Eve and edged them out again 59-55 on Jan. 19.
“Honestly, every game that we played with Stanford has been a close game,” Moore said. “Both teams play great, top players showed out and honestly it’s going to be a great game.”
The game will be streamed on Pac-12 Networks as the Trojans play the Cardinal at 6 p.m.