USC faces tough upcoming road tests
The Women of Troy hope to continue their undefeated start to 2013 up by the Bay Area against two of the top-10 teams in the nation, as they get ready to face No. 7 California on Thursday, Jan. 17 and No. 6 Stanford on Sunday, Jan. 20.
USC (7-8, 4-0 Pac-12) is off to its best conference start since the 2004-05 season and is currently tied with No. 14 UCLA (13-2, 4-0 Pac-12) for first in the Pac-12.
“That’s a really good way to come into this upcoming road trip at Stanford and Cal,” Harberts said when asked about the standings.
The Trojans have won their last four games after a six-game losing streak to end 2012. They’ve been led by Cassie Harberts, who is averaging 21.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in conference play, and Ariya Crook, who is averaging 13.3 points, 4.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in conference play.
The Women of Troy are coming off a pair of home wins over the weekend, beating Washington (12-5, 4-2 Pac-12) 81-72 on Friday, Jan. 11 and edging out Washington State (5-11, 1-4 Pac-12) 61-59 on Sunday, Jan. 13. Harberts (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Kate Oliver (12 points, 13 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles against the Huskies, while Crook added 23 points and five assists. Jazmine Davis led the Huskies with 37 points on 12-of-28 shooting.
Crook took a hard foul with under a second remaining and hit two free throws to give USC a 61-59 win over the Cougars. She also finished with 14 points and set career highs with nine rebounds and six assists. Harberts added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Oliver finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
“Our chemistry is finally building on and off the court,” Crook said.
“I think we just got sick of losing, too,” Harberts noted. “I got sick of losing.”
Stanford (14-2, 3-1 Pac-12) and Cal (13-2, 3-1 Pac-12) played their last two games against each other, splitting the two contests. Stanford won the first one on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at Berkeley, 62-53. Chiney Ogwumike contributed 26 points and six rebounds, while Amber Orrange added 15 points for the Cardinal. Layshia Clarendon finished with 17 points and six rebounds for the Golden Bears on 6-of-20 shooting.
Cal was able to bounce back in the following game, beating the Cardinal 67-55 at Stanford on Sunday, Jan. 13. Brittany Boyd scored 19 points for the Bears, while Gennifer Brandon added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Ogwumike scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Cardinal, who had their 81-game conference winning streak snapped.
The Cardinal are led by Ogwumike, who is averaging 21.4 points and 11.6 rebounds on the season, and Joslyn Tinkle, who is averaging 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds. Boyd and Clarendon are both averaging over 13 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Golden Bears.
USC beat Cal last year 76-75 in overtime, but lost to Stanford 69-52. Both games will be televised on the Pac-12 Network, with the games starting at 6 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.