Women’s basketball takes care of business in opener against LMU
USC’s women’s basketball team opened its season in impressive fashion with an 85-55 win over LMU at Galen Center Wednesday.
The Trojans had a special night on the offensive end, as their 85 points were the most they’ve scored in a game since February 2019 — despite missing six players due to various ailments, including 2019 leading scorer and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year sophomore forward Alissa Pili.
Not a single player scored over 19 points, a sign of what appears to be a more balanced scoring attack for the Trojans this season. With a 21-11 assist-to-turnover ratio, the Trojans passed the ball often and comfortably.
“We really really did emphasize one more pass, hit the open [player] and move the basketball,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “I was proud of the kids that they took that to heart and that they did that.”
With Pili out, the Trojan frontcourt relied on freshman forward Amaya Oliver. In her first career game, Oliver recorded a double-double and showed her value on the offensive glass. Oliver finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds in her debut, with six rebounds coming on the offensive end.
Trakh said Oliver can expect to be heavily involved in the frontcourt rotation with Pili and Jackson this season.
“[Oliver] gives us some good options,” Trakh said “They’re three different types of players too that will give you different looks.”
The Trojans did struggle to move the ball on offense early in the first quarter, as open shots were hard to come by. Despite playing in an empty Galen Center, Oliver said first-game nerves were there — but didn’t last very long.
“Coming into my first game not having fans kind relieved a little pressure,” Oliver said. “It was just like playing a pick-up.”
Along with Oliver, USC’s success on the offensive end can be attributed to its backcourt. One of five Trojans to score in double digits, junior guard Desiree Caldwell racked up seven assists to go with 13 points. Last year’s second leading scorer and sophomore guard Endyia Rogers had similar production, logging 15 points and six assists in the win.
A USC scoring run put the game out of reach for LMU early in the fourth quarter, extending the lead from 12 to 20 in just over two minutes. The Trojans made 11 threes on the afternoon compared to just four for the Lions.
Continuing with the theme of an unpredictable offense, the Trojans’ leading scorer in their season-opening win was redshirt freshman guard Madison Campbell. Campbell exceeded expectations in her long-awaited debut finishing with 19 points, 15 of those coming from behind the 3-point line.
Trakh was highly complimentary of Campbell’s resilience leading up to her return. She was supposed to be out a full year after having “serious back surgery” in December 2019.
“We’re very proud of her determination and her effort and her will and her desire to come back on the court,” Trakh said. “That’s a ‘Fight On’ spirit if there ever is one.”
While the 30-point season-opening win can temporarily appease some concerns, Trakh said the Trojans still have work to do on the defensive end.
“With six people I think the team decided they were going to rest on defense and save their energy for offense,” Trakh said jokingly. “We’ve got to get back to work on our defensive fundamentals and our player-to-player defense and our zone.”
The Trojans are set to open their Pac-12 schedule with a visit to Arizona State Dec. 4.