An aggressive third quarter spearheaded by junior point guard Minyon Moore helped the Women of Troy defend home court in a season-opening 73-55 victory Tuesday.
A 13-0 run from UC Riverside before halftime led to a 30-30 tie at the half. The Trojans came out of halftime with an attack mindset as they switched to a 1-2-2 full court press and focused more on speeding up the game.
USC managed to outscore UC Riverside 27-12 in a third quarter that came to define the game; not even a 2-3 zone could contain the flow the Trojans managed to play with in the second half.
Head coach Mark Trakh credited the game’s momentum swing to the Moore sisters, junior guard Minyon and senior guard Mariya.
“[Minyon] knew, ‘[I’ve] got to turn it up and everybody will turn it up with me,’” Trakh said. “Mariya came out and hit a couple of 3-pointers … and that was the difference.”
Minyon Moore scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half and served as a constant spark on both sides of the ball as she screamed out instructions on defense and looked to push the pace after each of her 12 rebounds. The 2017-18 Pac-12 All-Defensive Team member kicked off the season with a near triple-double, as she posted a stat line of 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Despite accompanying a near triple-double effort with a block and three steals, Minyon Moore still believed there was room for improvement.
“I had a couple of stupid errors that I usually don’t have,” Minyon Moore said. “On defense, it’s a new group so sometimes I tried to help too much.”
One of the key additions in that new group is her older sister Mariya, who transferred from the University of Louisville. After sitting all of last season due to transfer eligibility guidelines, Mariya Moore knocked down three 3-pointers en route to 11 points and five assists in her USC debut.
“I was just trying to get back into the flow of things,” Mariya Moore said. “It felt good to be back.”
Trakh had a similar reaction to the team’s performance.
“To start how we started and win by 18 points,” Trakh said. “I think we’ve got a lot of potential on the team.”
However, the Trojans start to the season was far from pretty, as they posted nine turnovers in the first half alone. Turnovers paired with anxious play on the defensive end led to a sloppy first 20 minutes of basketball.
At one point in the second quarter, USC mishaps helped UC Riverside go on a 13-0 run and take its only lead of the night.
However, the constant efforts of the Moore sisters accompanied by solid interior performances from junior forwards Kayla Overbeck and Ja’Tavia Tapley helped keep USC from falling in the team’s season opener to an overmatched UC Riverside team.
Trakh and the Women of Troy suited up Tuesday without senior point guard Aliyah Mazyck. Defensive miscommunications and errant offensive passes were prominent in the senior floor general’s absence. Mazyck was a 2017-18 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year finalist and is expected to bring that same level of production along with her savvy veteran point guard presence when she returns.
“I was happy with the win,” Trakh said. “We won that game tonight without Aliyah and Aliyah’s one of the top players in the Pac-12.”
Next, Trojans will head south to face Long Beach State University Sunday at 2 p.m.