USC faced with two tough road games

After snapping a five-game losing streak with a win over the Washington Huskies, the USC women’s basketball team hopes it can carry some of that momentum heading into its final road trip of the year.

Up next for the Women of Troy (14-11, 8-6) is a game with the Oregon Ducks, who managed to come to the Galen Center and steal a road victory in the team’s last meeting. With the Pac-10 conference regular season winding down and a NCAA tournament bid at stake, the Women of Troy understand they have business to take care of.

“We need to be focused.  We have to play the first 20 minutes just as hard as the last 20 minutes,” senior guard/forward Aarika Hughes said.

Playing hard the entire game will be important, but containing Oregon’s lethal offensive attack will be key as well. The Ducks (16-10, 7-7) have four starters averaging double figures in scoring, and they are the second-highest scoring team in the nation, averaging almost 84 points per contest.

In the last meeting between the teams, the Ducks scored 85 points and senior guard Taylor Lilley set an Oregon single-game record by hitting nine 3-point baskets en route to 36 points.

“We’re going to have to get a hand up in her face because Lilley can shoot it from anywhere,” Hughes said.  “We have to contain [Oregon’s] dribble penetration and keep the ball in front of us.”

In the second game of their road trip, the Women of Troy will face the Oregon State Beavers (9-16, 1-13), who occupy last place in the Pac-10 standings. But the Women of Troy know they cannot overlook any opponent this late in the season, as evidenced by their 12-point loss to then-last place Washington State Cougars.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” USC associate head coach Ervin Monier said.  “We’ll try to take Oregon first, and then we’ll give some attention to Oregon State.”

Though the Women of Troy handily defeated the Beavers by 27 points in the last meeting, there will still be changes in their game plan to try and improve on their play.

“It’s a game of adjustments… we’re trying to make the adjustment to be better and do what it is that we need to do,” Monier said.

Going on the road won’t be easy for the Women of Troy, but team members said they are confident they’ll be able to find a way to tune out everything else and focus on the task at hand.

“We have to act like the crowd is cheering for us,” Monier said. “We’ve been pretty decent on the road so far, so we’ll treat [these games] like home games.”

Thursday’s tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.