Women’s basketball falls to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion

Junior forward Alissa Pili drives toward the basket with a left hand dribble.
Junior forward Alissa Pili makes a move toward the basket in USC’s early season matchup against Antelope Valley. Pili had 6 points in the Trojans Thursday night game against UCLA. (Talha Rafique | Daily Trojan)

Amid their fluctuating record in the Pac-12, women’s basketball fell to UCLA in a crosstown showdown at the Pauley Pavilion 66-43. 

Despite out-rebounding the Bruins in a heavily-contested bout, costly turnovers and inefficiency from the field during the first half created a 13-point deficit entering the third quarter and subsequently placed the game out of reach, culminating in a 23-point defeat. 

UCLA graduate student forward IImari’i Thomas dominated the paint in her own right by collecting 7 rebounds and notching 20 points on 9-for-14 from the field. 

The Bruins’ defense quelled USC’s offense, keeping them under 28% from the field and 12% from beyond the arc, a far cry from the team season average of 44% and 36%, respectively. 

Although UCLA struggled in the first-half from behind the arc, only shooting 20%, the Bruins doubled their 3-point output after halftime as they converted four triples compared to USC’s sole 3-pointer. 

UCLA’s offense translated to multiple streams of scoring, as three Bruins finished the game with double-digit points. 

“We don’t feel good in our locker room. I don’t think that’s who we are or who we want to be,” said Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb in a post-game press conference. “[UCLA] beat us in the toughness category. I thought they were ready to go. I thought we spent a lot of the game on our heels.”

Sophomore forward Jordyn Jenkins led USC in scoring and rebounding, recording a 17-point and 11 rebound double-double on 7-11 from the field. Jenkins was the only Trojan in double digits in her final game at Pauley Pavillion. 

Despite Jenkins efforts, UCLA’s defense kept USC at bay. 

“[UCLA’s] pressure kind of had us a little frazzled on offense, and we got a lot of turnovers because of it,” Jenkins said. “So I think now that we saw it, we can kind of get better at it and just make better passes and just be a better team offensively.” 

USC’s inefficient night coalesced with detrimental turnovers, as the Trojans committed 16 and 11 turnovers in respective halves. UCLA took advantage of USC’s lost possessions as they scored 21 of their 66 points as a result of turnovers compared to USC’s 6. 

Despite an impressive performance at the free-throw line, converting 9 of their 11 attempts compared to UCLA’s 4 from 6, the Trojans struggled in spacing as they only converted 2 three-pointers from 17 occasions. 

“As bad as we feel and sort of embarrassed as I am, I am also excited to play this team again in a couple of days,” Gottlieb said. “To me, I don’t think it’s errors — miles and miles of gap — we just need to be ourselves more. Credit to them, they won the game, and we’ll be ready on Sunday.” 

The Trojans will return to Galen Center Sunday and host the Bruins in hopes of clinching redemption after Thursday evening’s loss. The game tips off at 6 p.m.