Two Pac-12 teams battled for their first conference win on Sunday night at Haas Pavilion when No. 18 Cal defeated USC 66-59.
The Trojans, holding a 10-4 overall record and 0-3 conference record, left with two straight losses in Pac-12 play at Stanford and at home against crosstown rival UCLA. The Bruins also de
feated Cal in an overtime contest on Jan. 4. With this defeat in the books, the Women of Troy have also lost five straight games against Cal.
The Golden Bears pushed to an early lead with 3-pointers from guards freshman McKenzie Forbes, sophomore Kianna Smith and graduate student Receé Caldwell. Senior center Kristine Anigwe, the leading rebounder in the nation, controlled the battle down low against junior forward Kayla Overbeck, forcing her to the bench with two early fouls.
Senior guard Mariya Moore led all scorers in the first quarter with 10 points, including a last-second 3-point shot from near half-court that trimmed Cal’s lead to 18-15.
Moore, an All-American at Louisville before transferring to USC two seasons ago, tied the game 18-18 at the beginning of the second quarter after an and-one layup in transition with an assist from younger sister junior guard Minyon Moore. Junior center CJ West, junior forward Jaelyn Brown and Anigwe all dominated the low post for Cal, each scoring and contributing an offensive rebound.
Mariya Moore continued to shoot well from the perimeter, keeping USC within one possession with under five minutes remaining. Redshirt freshman guard Shalexxus Aaron got on the board in the second quarter with a corner three.
Cal led the rebounding battle 19-11 at halftime, prompting USC head coach Mark Trakh to emphasize rebounding in a timeout halfway through the second quarter.
Mariya Moore tied the game 29-29 with a near-half court 3-pointer to barely beat the shot clock with two minutes left in the half. But Cal finished the half on a 7-0 run that featured threes from Forbes and senior guard Asha Thomas, extending the lead to 36-29 at halftime.
Mariya Moore led all scorers with 18 points — the most the Bears have allowed to one player in a half this season.
The Bears doubled their lead in the first four minutes of the third quarter, forcing a USC timeout during a 15-4 run. Anigwe added another 8 points and five rebounds to her total.
Freshman forward Jillian Archer got on the board for the Trojans in the third quarter, and Mariya Moore hit two more threes to reach her season-high 24 points before the end of the frame.
“I really didn’t know how many threes I had until after the game when the coach told me,” Mariya Moore said. “I’d rather have not scored if it means we won the game.”
Cal’s 15-point lead was cutdown to 11 as Moore hit her seventh 3-pointer of the afternoon. Minyon Moore brought it to 7 points with a scoop layup, contributing to a 10-2 run for the Women of Troy to start the fourth quarter.
Anigwe fouled out with five minutes left in the game, finishing as Cal’s leading scorer with 21 points and 16 rebounds. The teams traded baskets as the game winded down.
Mariya Moore converted two and-one layups in the last two minutes for the Trojans for a career-high 36 points, taking the deficit down to 4 points. However, with 27 seconds remaining, the Trojans were forced to foul and couldn’t secure the comeback.
In 38 minutes of action, Mariya Moore finished with 36 points, five rebounds and five assists, finishing 7-14 from beyond the arc.
“[Mariya] did a great job,” Minyon Moore said. “I’m sad we didn’t get the win with her career high. [But] I’m super pr
oud of her that she got back to her groove coming from Louisville. She looked how she’s always looked our whole lives.”
Even with an encouraging performance from Mariya Moore, the loss sticks out for the program. No other player scored more than 6 points, and USC trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter. The Women of Troy dug themselves a hole too deep to climb out of.
“If we can just fix the third quarters we can go up against anybody,” Mariya Moore said. “We’re going to continue to fight.”
The Women of Troy will return home to face Oregon at the Galen Center on Jan. 11.