Though the Women of Troy have lost four of their last six games, USC is poised to pull the upset against the Bay Area schools.
No sentiments of worry or concern were expressed this week as the Women of Troy travel north for their toughest, most pivotal road trip of the season.
“It’s another game, another chance to get two wins on the road,” senior forward Briana Gilbreath said. “You can’t think about the past, any losses that you’ve had. You have to go in with a certain kind of confidence.”
That the Women of Troy approach this game as a challenge and not a lost cause is encouraging. Stanford is a national powerhouse that has appeared in each of the past four Final Fours and has not lost a game at Maples Pavilion since February 2007.
But USC has been road-tested plenty this season. Perhaps the biggest win of the year came at Gonzaga. USC has lost close games in tough environments, including a devastating one-point loss in December at Texas A&M, who is the defending national champions.
“We’ve played against big crowds and hostile environments,” senior guard Ashley Corral said. “We know what they feel like so that’s not going to be an intimidation factor.”
Another source for confidence comes from these two teams’ first meeting this season. On Dec. 29, USC gave Stanford all it could handle in a 61-53 loss at the Galen Center, giving the No. 4 Cardinal one of their biggest scares of the season.
“That’s one of those games we feel like we let slip away,” Corral said of the first matchup. “We did a good job against the Ogwumikes. I think it comes down to heart and will this time.”
“The Ogwumikes” is a phrase used around women’s college basketball to describe the nation’s most lethal duo: The sister act of forwards Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike has taken the country by storm since they both arrived on campus. Now, the pair averages a combined total of 38 points and 22 rebounds per game.
“I don’t really take it as a personal challenge,” Gilbreath said of going against Stanford’s star combo. “I just have to go out and play hard for my team. If we all do that, then we’ll be OK.”
A victory on Thursday would elevate the Women of Troy out of their current three-way tie for fourth place in the Pac-12 with Arizona State and Oregon State. It would also give the team its signature win and build strong momentum for the stretch run of the season leading up to the Pac-12 Tournament.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.