USC closes out season with Arizona road trip

Women’s basketball will play its final regular season games of the year against Arizona State Thursday and No. 12 Arizona Saturday. The Trojans will look to finish their regular season with momentum heading into the Pac-12 tournament, taking place March 2-6 in Las Vegas. 

Freshman guard Rayah Marshall and the Trojans are excited to take advantage of these games to get ready for the Pac-12 tournament.

“We’re looking to be able to see what we’re capable of and taking this game to prepare us for the future games,” said Marshall in an interview with the Daily Trojan

Marshall is looking to keep things rolling after recording back-to-back double doubles for the first time in her career last week against Utah and Colorado, earning her Pac-12 Freshman of the Week. Marshall recorded a career-high 18 points on 9 of 15 shooting in Friday’s 83-62 win over Utah. Among all the freshmen in the country, Marshall has the most blocks per game at 2.40. 

“They can count on me to get done whatever it is they are relying on me to do,” Marshall said. “Simply, if they need me to be an ear off the court, setting screens for them on the court, being able to move the ball.”

At 11-14 overall and 4-11 in conference play, the Trojans face a tough Arizona State team and a nationally ranked Arizona team to close out conference play. The Sun Devils are ninth in the Pac-12, while the Wildcats are fourth with a 9-5 conference record.

The Wildcats are looking to bounce back from a loss to an unranked Washington State team on Sunday. In the loss, senior forward Cate Reese was injured with a dislocated shoulder. The 6-foot-2 forward is the Wildcats’ leading scorer and rebounder on the team, averaging 14.6 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game. 

The Trojans are going for the series sweep against the No. 12 Wildcats, previously upsetting them 76-67 Jan. 9 at Galen Center. Junior guard Alyson Miura led the team in scoring with 15 points, shooting 5 of 6 from deep and dishing out 6 assists. 

To prepare for the upcoming Arizona schools, Marshall emphasized “toughness.” 

“Both teams are really good teams, so we’re just looking to be the aggressors,” Marshall said. 

This is the Trojans’ first matchup with the Sun Devils because their previous game was postponed on Jan. 2 due to coronavirus protocols. 

With two wins against the Sun Devils and the Wildcats, the Trojans could move into ninth place in the Pac-12. As of now, the Trojans will end up seeding anywhere from a ninth seed to an 11th seed, which means they would need to win four games to be crowned Pac-12 tournament champions, securing them an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. However, Marshall isn’t worried about making the tournament. Instead, he just wants to finish the season strong.

“We’re focusing on just finishing strong, both on the court and mentally, and continually growing to be closer with each other,” Marshall said.

USC will close up the regular season at Arizona State Thursday at 4 p.m. and at Arizona Saturday at 11 a.m.