Women of Troy need a comeback

After disappointing losses at California and Stanford on their road trip to the Bay Area last week, the USC women’s basketball team returns to the Galen Center looking to keep its undefeated home record intact.

“We don’t ever want to lose at home. There’s more incentive to win at home,” said junior guard Ashley Corral.

Expectations · Junior guard Ashley Corral and USC aim to keep their home winning streak alive against Arizona and Arizona State. - Kelvin Kuo | Daily Trojan

The games against Arizona and Arizona State will have a big impact on the Pac-10 standings, as the Women of Troy (12-6, 4-3) are currently tied with the Wildcats (13-5, 4-3) and the Sun Devils (12-5, 4-3) for third place in the conference. All three teams lead Oregon and Cal by one game and trail UCLA by two games.

Both Arizona and Arizona State have lost three of their past five games, but USC is not underestimating its Pac-10 foes.

“We’re a different team [from last year],” said senior center Kari LaPlante. “We need to come out and execute everything … offense, box out, rebound, and then get back in our transition defense.”

Arizona possesses one of the most efficient offenses in the Pac-10, as it ranks in the top three in the conference in scoring offense, field goal percentage, assists and turnover margin.

LaPlante will have her hands full in the paint against the Wildcats, who boast two senior forwards averaging double-digits points this season in Ify Ibekwe (13.8) and Soana Lucet (11.4).

Ibekwe also leads the Pac-10 in rebounds at 9.8 per game.

“They’re very tough in transition and very athletic,” Corral said. “We have to worry about rebounding and getting back out in transition. It’s going to be a fast game.”

Arizona State has one player who averages double figures in points: senior guard Dymond Simon (13.8).

But the Sun Devils have a lot of depth on their bench with nine players who can come in to contribute.

The Sun Devils also boast a stifling defense — their 52-49 win over Washington last week marked the sixth time this season they have held their opponents under 50 points, something the Women of Troy have only done once this season.

But Corral believes that if they stick to their game plan, the Women of Troy will sweep their games this weekend and take a huge step toward clinching third place in the Pac-10.

That’s an accomplishment that would hold a lot of weight with the NCAA Tournament selection committee come March.

“No matter where we’re playing in the country, they’re just another block in our road, so we have to get through them and do whatever it takes to get a win,” Corral said.

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