Women’s basketball posts stellar showing in tourney

Redshirt freshman guard Shalexxus Aaron takes a jump shot in a game at Galen Center. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)

The Trojans went undefeated in the Nugget Classic Tournament this weekend in Reno, Nevada, besting Utah State on Friday and Nevada on Sunday. The two victories improve the Women of Troy’s record to 6-0.

The Trojans opened the tournament Friday against the Aggies,  their closest game of 2018. Prior to the tournament, the Women of Troy beat their opponents by an average of 32 points.

The Trojans got off to a shaky start, as they went into halftime only up by one. But the team stayed focused and made a late rally to win 55-46. Junior guard Minyon Moore and senior guard Mariya Moore led the way with 16 points apiece for USC.

On Sunday, the Trojans faced the Wolf Pack in what was their second and final game of the Nugget Classic Tournament. This was the Trojans’ first game against the Wolf Pack since 1986.

Head coach Mark Trakh was proud of the way some of his players rose to the occasion, especially graduate student guard Cheyanne Wallace and redshirt freshman guard Shalexxus Aaron.

“We managed to put together two complete halves,” Trakh said. “It was an overall good performance.”

In the first quarter, it was an early back-and-forth affair, as both teams were tied halfway into the quarter. It was only a matter of time before the Trojans pulled ahead, finishing the quarter with 19 points to the Wolf Pack’s 13. USC spread the ball around well, as four different players scored; Wallace had a team high of six points.

“[Wallace] is getting better and better, she’s showing signs of life and she played the way she can play today, I couldn’t be happier,” Trakh said. “She is very capable of that, and she is such a great kid.”

The Trojans had their most dominating performance in the second quarter. USC caught fire, outscoring Nevada 21-9. The Trojans ended the second quarter on an 8-0 run, and went into the half up by 18. Furthermore, the biggest difference in the second quarter was USC’s ability to rebound, as it had 14 rebounds (11 defensive) to Nevada’s eight.

Coming out of the half, the Trojans started sluggish, allowing 5 points on five turnovers and committing six personal fouls in the third quarter. The Wolf Pack only turned the ball over twice and committed three personal fouls. Nonetheless, USC kept up with the Wolf Pack attack.

USC finished the quarter with 14 points to the Wolf Pack’s 10, en route to a 54-32 score, their largest lead of the game. Junior forward Ja’Tavia Tapley led the charge for the Trojans in the third quarter, scoring 4 points and grabbing four rebounds.

In the final quarter of the game, the Trojans gave up the most points to the Wolf Pack at 19, but still kept pace scoring 18 and finishing off the game on a high note.

Wallace led all Trojans in points, rebounds and free throws made with 19, nine and 5 respectively. With a final score of 72-51, the Women of Troy ended the Nugget Classic Tournament putting up a combined 127 points over their two games.

Senior guard Aliyah Mazyck and junior guard Minyon Moore did not play in the team’s victory, showing just how much depth this year’s team has compared to previous seasons.

“We were missing out first and second leading scorers, who are also our two best defensive players,” Trakh said. “I’m really proud of our kids … we got some good depth this season, so that helps.”

USC has begun to gain national attention, receiving votes in the AP and USA Today Coaches polls. The Women of Troy head back home to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Galen Center.