Women’s hoops gears up for road trip

The Women of Troy were able to snap a three-game losing streak with a win against Cal on Sunday and look to continue their success this weekend as they hit the road to play Utah and Colorado.  A set of victories this weekend is vital to the team’s Pac-12 standing, and its momentum entering the second half of the season.

The team starts off the weekend in Utah (12-7, 4-4) against a struggling Utes team.  Utah has been struggling to score as of late and this is likely to continue against a stingy USC defense that has limited opponents to 55.7 points and 38.5% shooting.  In order to slow down the Utes, USC (15-5, 3-5) will need to try and limit sophomore center Emily Potter, who is currently averaging 16.7 points per game.

“We’re going to double [Potter] and try to keep the ball out of her hands,” head coach Cynthia-Cooper Dyke said.

Utah currently sits right above USC in the Pac-12 standings at 4-4; however, they come into the game struggling.  After starting conference play 4-1, Utah is currently on a three-game losing streak with losses against No. 8 Arizona State, No. 9 Oregon State and Oregon by an average margin of 13.6.  A win against Utah will place USC into a tie for sixth in the conference.

The team then travels to Boulder on Sunday to play a Colorado (5-14, 0-8) team that has struggled this season. Colorado is currently on a nine-game losing streak and may not seem as much of a challenge to USC; however, the Women of Troy can not take any game for granted at this point of the season.

“It’s important to not take this game lightly because Colorado is a strong team,” Cooper-Dyke said. “Every team in the Pac-12 is strong this year, no matter what their record is.”

The player to watch this weekend is junior guard Courtney Jaco.  After a tough weekend in Washington in which she shot 3/24 from deep, Jaco was able to bounce back this past weekend shooting four-of-five from distance.  Her three-point shooting is crucial to a team that needs spacing in order for star player Temi Fagbenle to operate effectively.  If Jaco is able to shoot from deep effectively this weekend, it will make it much easier for Fagbenle and Kristen Simon to score inside the paint.

USC has been missing starters Brianna Barrett and Jordan Adams for the past four games and hope to have them back soon.  The team has gone 1-3 the past four games with both players missing and the team has been missing their leadership, play-making, and versatility.  Jordan Adams’ ability to play and defend multiple positions along with Barrett’s play-making ability is vital to this team’s success.

“I can’t wait to get them back. I wish we had them on this four-game road trip,” Cooper-Dyke said.

In order to come out of this weekend victorious, the Women of Troy will need to continue to rely on their defense.  USC has wrecked havoc on opponents this season with their stout defense and it will need to continue to do that in order to defeat Utah and Colorado this weekend.