Despite a loss to UCLA on Sunday, the women’s basketball team did not go down easily. They showed a different side than in previous games, giving hope that their next two games against Arizona and Arizona State this weekend will be the ones to jump-start them back to consecutive wins.
“Every game now is a chance for us to bounce back,” head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. “We got better against UCLA, played better against UCLA, but now we have to put that effort into every game we play and we’ll come away with some wins. We’ve got to translate some of the steps we have taken and some of the things we have gotten better in into wins.”
After losing seven games in a row — some close and some not —- the mental battle becomes a prominent factor in how the team does the rest of the season. For the Trojans, the second half of the season could easily slip away from them if the players and the coaches lose confidence in their abilities. However, according to freshman guard Minyon Moore, the team focuses on certain aspects to keep their spirits alive.
“[We have to stay] positive and not stay down on ourselves,” Moore said. “It’a just always saying, ‘We have a next game, a next game to get it to come together.’ We need to come together as a team and get a win. Wins heal everything, so we just need to pull it together.”
Pulling it together has proved difficult for the Trojans. While their play shows flashes of intensity and teamwork, the inconsistency of the young team has plagued its ability to come away with victories. With countless injuries and few upperclassmen leaders, the team has been shaky at times. Ultimately, Cooper-Dyke believes that her young squad has the talent to go far in this conference if she can rein in its youth and turn development into wins.
“We’ve shown that we have the ability,” Cooper-Dyke said. “We just have to be consistent and it sometimes is difficult when you have five freshmen and a couple sophomores and a couple injuries, but we are in the middle of the top conference in the nation. We’ve got to make sure that we are coming to play every night.”
One of the players making a difference for the team is senior guard Courtney Jaco. She averages 13.9 points per game in conference, scoring 27 points the first time playing UCLA and 18 the second. It is not just her scoring that has made a huge impact on the team, but also her leadership on and off the court. With such a young team, the example she sets now will be passed down to future Trojans as well as the ones playing right now.
“She is such a role model,” Moore said. “I tell her every day that I strive to be like her every day. Not just her athletic ability, but her leadership. It is just great being under her and seeing her leadership as a freshman, and having an example to follow for later years.”
With Jaco leading the way, the Trojans will host Arizona on Friday at 7 p.m. and ASU on Sunday at 3 p.m.