Women of Troy look to get back on track at Colorado

Following a narrow overtime loss on Sunday, the USC women’s basketball team is looking to rebound with a visit to Boulder, Colo., where they will take on the Buffaloes.

Fast start · Beginning the season ranked No. 23 in the AP poll, USC has opened Pac-12 play with five wins through seven games. - Chris Pham | Daily Trojan

Although the 65-61 loss to Oregon State snapped the Women of Troy’s five-game winning streak and left them 2-2 at home in conference play, the Women of Troy (10-7, 5-2) remain 3-0 on the road against Pac-12 opponents.

On the other hand, Colorado (14-4, 3-4) has yet to win a home game against a conference opponent. It began the season with 12 straight wins, but has gone just 3-4 over the course of Pac-12 play.

The game against the Buffaloes will be USC’s first of a two-game road swing, ending with a visit to Salt Lake City to face Utah (9-9, 2-5) on Saturday.

“When we get out on the road, we get together as a team,” USC coach Michael Cooper said. “We get into our game plan, we know what we’re supposed to do and it’s us against the world.”

The team’s three Pac-12 road wins came against Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA during USC’s season-high five-game win streak, which was ruined by Oregon State’s late push in overtime at the Galen Center.

“It was a tough loss. We shouldn’t have lost that game and we know that,” USC junior forward Christina Marinacci said. “Now we just have to get it back, take each game one at a time and move forward.”

The Women of Troy will get that chance to recover against a team led by versatile guard Chucky Jeffery. She leads the Buffaloes in points, rebounds and assists. She shoots 40 percent from behind the arc.

Despite Jeffery’s impressive play, Cooper had a simple strategy to dispel her effectiveness.

“Put Briana Gilbreath on her,” Cooper said. “She’s our team’s leader on defense.”

Senior guard Gilbreath, who was a rebound shy of a triple-double in USC’s 92-73 win over Oregon last week, is No. 8 all-time in steals and No. 5 all-time in blocks. She scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds against the Beavers.

While Gilbreath has headed the team’s defensive efforts, senior guard Ashley Corral has stepped it up on the other end of the court.

Along with being No. 4 all-time in assists, Corral has scored 20 or more points in three conference games so far, including her 20-point effort against Oregon State on Sunday.

The last time Colorado and USC met, Corral dropped seven out of eight 3-pointers en route to a career-high 32 points, giving the Women of Troy an 87-70 win over the Buffaloes in the NIT quarterfinals last March.

This is Colorado’s first season in the Pac-12 after previously competing in the Big-12 conference.

Marinacci and sophomore forward Cassie Harberts have also maintained a well-rounded presence on the floor, combining for 22.4 points and 13.6 rebounds in Pac-12 conference play.

After losing to Oregon State, USC stands at third in the Pac-12 behind No. 1 Stanford (17-1, 8-0) and California (15-5, 6-2). The Golden Bears, however, will be facing the Cardinal on Saturday, which could give the Women of Troy a chance to rise in the standings with a win against the Utes on the same day.

Nevertheless, Cooper insists that the team cannot be distracted by the conference leaders’ clash up in Palo Alto.

“We’ve got to take care of our own business,” Cooper said. “We’re going to go to Colorado, get that win [and] then we’re going to go to Utah and get that one. Then we’ll look at the standings and see where we sit.”

The Women of Troy are currently sitting in third place in the conference, while Stanford, at 8-0, remains in first place, followed closely by California at 6-2. The Women of Troy will take on Colorado at 6 p.m.