After this week’s games at Arizona State and Arizona, the USC women’s basketball team could comfortably find itself in third place in the Pac-10, two games ahead of its closest competitors, with two games left in the regular season.
“Both games are very important,” said junior guard Ashley Corral. “This is a must-win road trip.”
The Women of Troy begin their road trip tonight against Arizona State. The two teams are currently tied for third place in the Pac-10 with 8-6 conference records.
If the Women of Troy continue their recent streak of hot shooting, they have a good chance of sweeping their opponents.
In last week’s game against California, the Women of Troy put on an offensive show.
They scored a season-high 50 points in the first half en route to an 80-67 win.
Two days earlier, USC hung around with No. 3 Stanford for most of the game, eventually falling behind late in a 78-64 loss that was closer than the score indicated.
“We came out shooting well both games,” Corral said. “Everybody’s finding their shot, finding their rhythm.”
Corral registered a career high, drilling seven three-pointers against Cal.
Sophomore guard Stefanie Gilbreath converted all four of her three-point attempts against Stanford, chipping in a total of 16 points.
That marked the first double-digit point total in Gilbreath’s USC career, which has been plagued by a variety of injuries.
According to senior center Kari LaPlante, who scored a season-high 15 points against Cal, Corral and Gilbreath have been key to USC’s offensive revival.
“It definitely helps us offensively … for Stefanie to get back in and do so well, and for [Corral] to find her stroke,” LaPlante said. “It’s exciting for the team and it relieves pressure from the post.”
The Sun Devils won the first meeting 62-61 in a game that marked the first home loss for the Women of Troy.
“We just came out very slow against [Arizona State] at home,” Corral said. “Their [defensive] pressure got to us. This time we have to focus on playing with poise, running through [their pressure] and getting to our offense.”
Senior guard Dymond Simon is the only Sun Devil to average double-digit points with 14.2 per game and also leads Arizona State with 2.7 assists per game.
The team currently owns a record of 16-9, and has four more games in the regular season, plus the Pac-10 tournament, to reach 20, the magic number.
Throughout the season, USC coach Michael Cooper has said that 20 wins will probably get the Women of Troy a bid to the NCAA tournament.
“We know our ultimate goal [of making the tournament], and we want that really, really bad,” said senior guard Jacki Gemelos.