More than halfway into Pac-12 play, the USC women’s basketball team is currently sitting near the bottom of the standings. This past weekend, the Trojans went on a road trip to No. 17 Utah and Colorado, splitting their games with an 84-80 victory over the Utes and an 81-76 loss to the Buffaloes.
Head coach Mark Trakh’s Trojans entered Friday’s matchup with Utah coming off two straight wins over Washington and Washington State. USC was 3-7 in Pac-12 play, with its only previous win coming against UCLA.
Senior guard Mariya Moore had a big game early in the Utah matchup, putting up 8 quick points to give USC an early lead. The score at the end of the first quarter was 23-19 USC, after eight lead changes in the first 10 minutes. Moore said she bought into the green-light mentality despite the team’s recent shooting struggles.
“It’s hard to be in the gym so much and not hit shots, but we are just at the point where, it’s like, at least we are confident now whether we make it or miss it,” Moore said.
USC shot 54 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. Redshirt sophomore forward Asiah Jones and the Trojans took charge on the glass, leading the Utes 21-11. Jones had five rebounds for the game, four of which came on offense.
At halftime, Moore had 16 points in 20 minutes for the Trojans, equaling Utah redshirt freshman guard Dru Gylten. Moore hit three 3-pointers, shooting 75 percent. She also added three rebounds to her total, while senior guard Aliyah Mazyck forced two steals.
At the beginning of the third quarter, the Trojans extended their lead to 10 points with a shot from Mariya Moore. After trailing by as many as 14 points, the Utes entered the final quarter down 68-59.
Utah started the fourth quarter with a quick 5-1 run and lead, narrowing its deficit to 4 points in the first minute and a half. After three more baskets, the Utes tied the game at 68 points with under seven minutes left in regulation.
With USC up by 3 points in the last 30 seconds, junior guard Minyon Moore stole an inbound pass from graduate student guard Sarah Porter and hit two free throws. However, Utah hit a quick 3-pointer and stole the inbound pass with 13 seconds to play. Mariya Moore blocked the potential game-winning three, sealing the Trojans’ victory.
Mariya Moore finished with 23 points on 66 percent shooting in 39 minutes of action, but her biggest play came on the other side of the ball.
“I’ve got to sprint with all my effort, I can’t let her get the three off, so I just jump as high as I could,” Moore said. “It probably doesn’t look like I got high up, but I tried to jump as high as I could, and I guess I just tipped it.”
The Trojans finished their road trip at Colorado Sunday. The Buffaloes, who hadn’t won a game in conference play to that point, dominated the Trojans for most of the game, emerging victorious in a high-scoring affair.
The game was close until the fourth quarter when the Buffaloes started to run away with the lead. The Trojans were able to close it to a 1-point deficit in the last minute of the game, but the Buffaloes closed the game out at the free throw line.
Although USC suffered its eighth Pac-12 loss on the season, the Moore sisters continued to play at a high level. The sisters combined for 41 points, 13 rebounds and three steals against the Buffaloes. In addition, Minyon Moore played the entire game, while Mariya only missed two minutes.
Another standout player was junior forward Ja’Tavia Tapley, who scored 14 points in less than 30 minutes. Tapley missed just two shots and snagged six rebounds.
“I’m very proud of myself,” Tapley said. “I’ve really have been focusing on the game and how I played, not really worried about the other negative things going around me.”
For the Buffaloes, the double whammy of sophomore guard Mya Hollingshed and senior guard Alexis Robinson kept the Trojans at bay, combining for 37 points and 11 rebounds. Hollingshed and Robinson had a strong game on both sides of the ball, draining a combined six 3-pointers and forcing five turnovers.
The Women of Troy are now 14-9 overall, with six more games to play until the Pac-12 tournament. They will return home this weekend with important matches against Cal and Stanford Friday and Sunday, respectively, at Galen Center.