Important end-of-season games coming up for USC
Sitting at 9-9 on the season, women’s basketball’s campaign has been a mixed bag so far. After starting 2-2 in conference play, a four-game skid has the Trojans at a 2-6 conference record and in ninth place in the Pac-12 with just eight games to play. Here are the four most important games remaining if USC wants to turn it around before the Pac-12 tournament.
Feb. 6 versus Stanford
Likely the most difficult fixture of USC’s games left to play, No. 2 Stanford is undefeated in Pac-12 play and 16-3 overall. Despite a few early season losses, the Cardinal have found its stride on an eight-game winning streak. Before taking on USC, the Cardinal will face UCLA Feb. 3.
The matchup will be the first and only time the Trojans and the Cardinal see each other this regular season. Last season, USC dropped all three games to Stanford by a combined 86 points.
The Cardinal have four players averaging double digits in points this season, proving a handful for opposing defenses. USC will look to reverse history and pull off the upset at Galen Center Feb. 6.
Feb. 13 at Washington State
The Trojans lost 71-63 against the Cougars Jan. 14, despite a 20-point effort from sophomore forward Jordyn Jenkins. USC led Washington State 17-3 at the end of the first quarter, but couldn’t capitalize on the lead. The Cougars outscored the Trojans 68-46 in the final three quarters to complete the comeback.
USC will travel to Pullman, Wash. looking for a better result, starting with the defense. The Trojans allowed four Washington State players to hit double digits in scoring, including a 20-point outing from junior guard Johanna Teder.
Feb. 20 versus Colorado
USC’s first conference game of the season was a blowout 71-58 loss at the hands of Colorado Jan. 7, and now, the team will need to get a better result against the Buffaloes to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
The Trojans will need to figure things out on the offensive side of the ball. They shot 41.1% from the field, still losing despite holding the Buffaloes to 34.7% shooting. Colorado took 16 more shots than USC, capitalizing off of second-chance efforts and forcing 20 Trojans turnovers.
Graduate student forward Jordan Sanders suffered a knee injury in the away game against Colorado which sidelined her for four games until Jan. 28. Her return to the lineup could bolster the Trojans on offense.
Feb. 26 at Arizona
The 76-67 upset win over the then No. 4 ranked Wildcats Jan. 9 was the first marquee win of the season for the Trojans, and Arizona will also be their final opponent. A win to close out the season could be a momentum boost heading into the Pac-12 tournament.
USC will have to figure out how to limit senior forward Cate Reese, who carried the Wildcats’ scoring with a 29-point outing against the Trojans.
The Trojans also caught fire from beyond the arc against Arizona last time out, shooting 57.1% on 3-point attempts en route to their win. If USC can reproduce its shooting numbers, the team has a chance at another upset.