Women’s basketball rides defense to 67-49 win over UC Riverside

After a strong 32-point victory in their season opener against Hawaii, the women’s basketball team looked to expand their strong start to the season against UC Riverside on Wednesday night. While the Trojans did defeat the Highlanders 67-49, it was not as easy of a victory as head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke would have liked.

“I wasn’t happy with how we played.” Cooper-Dyke said, “but I’m happy that we won the game. We did what we needed to do in order to come away with the victory.”

The Women of Troy had a rough start to the beginning of the game with only a few of their shots falling in the first quarter. Luckily for the Trojans, the Highlanders were also struggling to find their shot, which allowed USC to obtain a one-point lead at the end of the quarter.

“When you miss baskets, it’s not fun,” freshmen guard Minyon Moore said. “But when you dwell on the baskets you miss, you will continue to miss baskets, so you have to shake it off and get onto the next play.”

With their defense taking over the game in the second quarter, the Trojans were able to pull ahead with eight fast-break points compared to two for UC Riverside. Both teams continued to miss shots, but the Women of Troy increased the intensity of their defense to create turnovers that they would capitalize on for the rest of the game.

“You have got to come out and play hard from the beginning, even when your shots aren’t necessarily going in,” Cooper-Dyke said. “For us, we like to play defense and let our offense fed off our defense.”

USC’s bench allowed them to pull even further ahead in the second half as it scored 42 of the team’s 67 points. Moore led the charge in her career high game with 20 points, six assists and six steals.

“We have players that are ready to step in and help out with the win and help get us on track both offensively and defensively,” Cooper-Dyke said. “It is great to see our players coming in off the bench and contributing in the way that they did tonight. It is important to have a deep bench, especially for games like this, where you don’t necessarily get off to a good start.”

Rejane Verin led UC Riverside’s fight to take back the lead with 15 points, but USC never allowed the Highlanders back into the game. The Women of Troy’s defense frazzled UC Riverside’s offense, forcing 29 turnovers. USC scored 41 points off of these turnovers, which heavily contributed to their victory.

“One of the adjustments we made at halftime was defensive intensity,” Cooper-Dyke said. “We really stepped up our defense and started trapping. It really got us started.”

With yet another win under their belt, the Trojans will head to Las Vegas to take on UNLV on Saturday. This tough win not only allowed the team a chance to defend their home court, but also get rest before two long road trips.

“It is important to come away with this win before going out on the road where we will encounter the opponent’s home crowd,” Cooper-Dyke said. “But it also allows us to have a taste of what it feels like to struggle in a game, to not have your shots fall, but to still come away with a victory.”