Women’s basketball prepares for final home game
USC will play its final batch of regular-season home games against Utah Friday and Colorado Sunday. Sophomore forward Jordyn Jenkins will look to continue her hot streak, scoring double figures in 14 straight games.
Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb remains optimistic about the season ahead of senior night.
“I think the beauty of college basketball is that there’s always a chance to win your conference tournament,” said Gottlieb in an interview with the Daily Trojan.
Many held high expectations for the former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach going into the season. However, amid bright spots and a three-game streak to start the season, there have also been low points such as their seven-game losing streak.
The Trojans stand at 10-13 overall with four games left in the regular-season, including two Pac-12 foes at home this weekend.
The Utes currently rank fifth in the Pac-12 with a 6-5 conference record, while the Buffaloes are ninth with a 5-7 conference record. USC currently sits 11th but could move up to 10th with two wins this weekend.
Despite the Trojans’ loss to Utah Feb. 9, Gottlieb said the team hopes to build on exposed weaknesses in preparation for Friday’s matchup.
“It’s a unique opportunity with Utah because we just played them a couple of days ago,” Gottlieb said. “They’re such a potent offensive team that we’re just working on a higher level of intensity on defense for 40 minutes … not having any lapses on our end because they’re so good that they’ll take advantage.”
Gottlieb said USC wants to be the aggressors on offense for 40 minutes, highlighting they want to play as well as they can for their last home weekend. The head coach also added that Jenkins “is playing at a higher level, as really as any player [Gottlieb] seen for a while.”
Jenkins has been the Trojans’ lead scorer in the last six games with multiple 20-point performances, including a 29-point outburst in USC’s victory against Washington last Friday. Gottlieb said she’s noticed Jenkins has acted confident when getting to her spots.
“She’s really talented and is capable of anything that she believes she’s capable of,” Gottlieb said. “We’ve seen her growth throughout this year on how to find her spots. Now she’s the focus of defensive double-coverages and physicality and she’s just able to navigate it because she understands really what she’s capable of.”
In light of senior night, Gottlieb specifically pointed out the energy of graduate student guard Tera Reed, graduate student forward Jordan Sanders and senior guard Desiree Caldwell.
While knowing the fans will make it a special night, Gottlieb personally wants to make it memorable for the seniors. Gottlieb said she hopes to honor them during the game and in a private moment post-game.
“The best way you can honor your seniors is by going out having a great week of prep and playing our tails off,” Gottleib said. “I think that’s the vibe this week.”
Gottlieb said she hasn’t ruled out a magical ending to their season and is always looking to the future.
“We want to put everything into this year and be as competitive as possible to try and shock some people and have a chance to go to the Pac-12 tournament and do something magical,” she said. “That said, because it’s a long-term journey for me as well, it’s making sure that we’re continuing to lay the foundation that will set us at the highest level possible in the years to come so just doing things the right way day in and day out.”
With the Pac-12 tournament set to start in two weeks, USC will first face Utah and Colorado in a two game stretch at Galen Center.