Women’s basketball will look to improve a 0-3 conference record when it hosts Oregon and Oregon State this weekend. The Women of Troy stand at 10-4 overall — they lost four of their last five contests and fell in each of their matchups with Power 5 schools.
USC will have a great challenge on its hands when it goes against No. 5 Oregon at the Galen Center on Friday night. Oregon is 13-1 and winning by an average of 30 points per game. The Ducks have a tremendous amount of offensive firepower, averaging 92.4 points per game to lead the nation.
Junior guard Sabrina Ionescu runs the show for the Ducks, leading the team in scoring with 19.8 points per game and shooting 50.7 percent from three, but her most formidable skill lies in her passing ability. Ionescu’s nine assists per game are top in the nation, proving she is a versatile threat with the ball in her hands. Throw in her 8.1 rebounds per contest, the second greatest record on the team, and it’s clear that Ionescu presents problems for the Trojans on both sides of the court.
The Ducks’ junior forward Ruthy Hebard, last season’s National Power Forward of the Year, is also an early standout of this season. She leads the NCAA in field goal percentage, shooting 70.9 percent from the field.
“[We need to] push [Hebard] out and make it harder for her to score,” junior forward Kayla Overbeck said of her upcoming role against Oregon. “She will score, but [I will do] everything I can.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Women of Troy on Sunday when they host Oregon State. The Beavers aren’t quite the offensive juggernaut that the Ducks are; Oregon State’s 81.7 points per game are good for 17th in the nation, but they have a well-rounded attack that has helped them solidify a 12-2 record.
If USC doesn’t get out to the 3-point line on defense, the Women of Troy could be in for a world of trouble. Oregon State boasts over 25 3-pointers per game and comprises 43.2 percent of them as a team, ranking second in the nation.
Junior guard Mikayla Pivec is a driving force for the Beavers on both ends of the floor. She leads the team with 8.7 rebounds per game as well as 15 steals and eight blocks through 14 games. She also ranks second on the team at 13.9 points per game and shoots almost 54 percent from deep.
USC will have to worry about redshirt sophomore guard Destiny Slocum when the Beavers are playing offense. Her 15.7 points and 5.6 assists per game both lead the team, and her 42.9 percent mark from behind the arc proves she is another threat from deep.
“[We need to] know our personnel, stay with our person, focus on what we worked on in practice and try not to get off of that,” senior forward Ja’Tavia Tapley said. “We’re going to have to help defense a lot, especially with the posts that we’re going against with Oregon. Offense will come, but we need to stop them on defense first.”
While the Trojans’ defense has kept them in games this season, the team has been allocating significant practice time to making adjustments offensively.
“We just need to take good shots,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “We need to run our offense, we need to be patient, we need to have really good shot selection and we need to control the tempo.”
The weekend’s conference action will begin against Oregon at 8 p.m. Friday. The Trojans will then host the Beavers at 12 p.m. on Sunday before facing three consecutive games on the road.
Amanda Sturges contributed to this report.