USC eyes opener tonight

By the time the USC women’s basketball team opens conference play this season, the Women of Troy will have played four ranked opponents.

Tonight’s exhibition game against Biola University is not one of those games. But that doesn’t mean the players, particularly the freshmen, aren’t looking forward to starting the season.

“I’ve always wanted to play Division I basketball, so this is like a dream come true,” freshman guard Len’Nique Brown said. “But I’m just going to take [the season] one day at a time.”

Floor vision · Junior guard Briana Gilbreath and the Women of Troy will face off against Biola in an exhibition game to start the season. - Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

That attitude should help USC as it prepares for a challenging non-conference slate. Coach Michael Cooper expects at least two of his freshmen, Brown and forward Cassie Harberts, to make an immediate impact. But the players will need time to come together as a team.

“I think [tonight] is about building chemistry and cleaning everything up: our defensive rotations, our offense, cutting down our turnovers,” Harberts said.

At least one symbiotic relationship has already developed this season. Brown said she and junior guard Ashley Corral, who set a school record last season with 85 3-pointers, work well together.

“She’s a good shooter, and I’m a better passer than I am a shooter,” Brown said. “Me getting Ashley the ball helps her out, and her making shots helps me out.”

Already, the freshmen have noticed a significant difference between high school and college basketball. Harberts said she was surprised at how much work it took just to compete during practice.

“The college game is a lot harder,” she said. “It’s faster and everyone is stronger. The girls are so much better than they were in high school, so it’s a big adjustment.”

Biola is not a Division I program, but the Women of Troy don’t expect their opponent to roll over without resistance. The Eagles enter the game ranked No. 13 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics preseason poll. Still, tonight’s game is primarily about getting ready for the regular season.

“We’re focusing on [Biola], but we’re also focusing on Duke and the other highly ranked teams,” Harberts said. “We’re definitely going to come out hard against Biola though.”

Brown and Harberts both said they felt jitters about their first game, although Brown was quick to qualify her nerves.

“I’ll be nervous until I hit the floor,” she said.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Galen Center.