Women of Troy look to keep momentum going

After escaping Oregon with two close victories, the Women of Troy ride a three-game winning streak back to the Galen Center to wrap up their final homestand of the regular season against the Arizona schools.

Improve · Sophomore forward Briana Gilbreath struggled against Oregon State in USC’s 53-50 win and looks to improve this weekend. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

“We’re definitely focused now, and these next two games are must-wins,” senior guard Hailey Dunham said. “But we’re just focused on Arizona now, and we’re just taking it one game at a time.”

With the Pac-10 tournament about a week away, the Women of Troy (16-11, 10-6) are currently fourth in the conference standings but can still capture third place with a good showing in the next two games.

All they need to do is take care of what they can control.

“Our goal is in our own hands and our destiny is where we want it to be at this particular time,” USC coach Michael Cooper said. “For us to be right where we talked about since day one is very [good].”

Standing in their way will be the Arizona Wildcats (13-14, 6-10), who managed to erase a 20-point deficit in the first meeting and force overtime.

Fortunately, the Women of Troy were able to escape Tempe, Ariz., with a narrow 81-78 victory.

This time around they know they will need to do a better job especially on the defensive glass.

Wildcats forward Ify Ibekwe leads the conference in rebounding, and keeping her off the glass will be a challenge for the Women of Troy.

“We gotta rebound,” Cooper said. “It’s been our Achilles’ heel all season long, but, if we’re going to get to where we want to go, eventually we’re going to have to be a good rebounding team.”

Not only will they have their hands full rebounding the ball, but the Wildcats also have three scorers averaging double figures in points. Slowing them down offensively will be no easy task.

“Our defense has been pretty consistent throughout the year,” Cooper said. “If we can [contain] those three scorers, we’ll be successful.”

For the Women of Troy, four seniors will be playing their final regular season home games at the Galen Center.

Dunham, along with senior guard/forward Aarika Hughes and senior guards Heather Oliver and Daniela Roark will be honored in a ceremony at Saturday’s game against Arizona State.

But to end their Women of Troy careers, they want nothing more than to finish the season strong and have a chance at playing in March.

“We know if we want to get to the NCAA tournament, we’re going to have to get these next two games,” Oliver said. “Not only are we emphasizing winning, but we have to come out with a passion and be confident in the way we play.”

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

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