USC slated for first-round Pac-12 Tournament game against the Bruins
USC finished the regular season with a 12-15 record, good for 10th in the Pac-12 standings. The Trojans now look ahead to the Pac-12 Tournament, where they will play No. 7 seed UCLA for the third time this season.
“One of the greatest privileges in working in collegiate athletics is being part of the excitement of March,” said Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb in a press conference Tuesday. “We’re trying to channel some really positive energy and momentum into a tough opening-round game against UCLA that we’re super excited for.”
USC lost both matchups against UCLA in the regular season, with the first being a 66-43 loss on the road. The Trojans shot just 28% from the field and 12% from three on 27 turnovers. UCLA had a balanced attack, with three players in double figures led by graduate student forward llmar’l Thomas with 20 points.
In their second matchup against the Bruins, the Trojans lost at home 68-58. Junior guard Charisma Osborne scored a season-high 27 points to lead the way for the Bruins along with 14 points and 7 assists from Thomas.
Osborne will command attention from USC’s defense. The junior leads UCLA in three statistical categories — averaging 17.1 points, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
USC came off of a road trip that garnered mixed results last weekend, splitting their final two games against Arizona State and Arizona. USC defeated the Sun Devils 60-58 after junior guard Alyson Miura hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner.
“She’s obviously an incredibly sharp shooter,” Gottlieb said. “She has a quick release, and she’s really picked her spots. She’s got the confidence to let it fly when she’s open.”
Against Arizona, the Trojans fell short, losing 68-59. Freshman guard Rayah Marshall led the Trojans in scoring with 18 points and tallied 7 blocks on the defensive end.
Sophomore forward Jordyn Jenkins, USC’s leading scorer throughout the season, is set to return for the game against UCLA after missing the Arizona road trip with a concussion.
Turnovers were an issue for USC in both games over the weekend as the Trojans committed 35 turnovers in two games compared to the 15 combined turnovers from Arizona State and Arizona. Gottlieb said that cutting down on unforced errors will be crucial as the team prepares for the Bruins Wednesday.
“The best transition defense is taking care of the ball. It’s hard to defend in transition when you’re throwing it to the other team,” Gottlieb said. “It’s something that’s just been a point of emphasis.”
The third installment of the crosstown rivalry will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.