USC loses to UCLA in Pac-12 Tournament

Freshman guard Rayah Marshall rises up for a shot during USC’s 83-57 loss against Stanford Feb. 6.
Freshman guard Rayah Marshall rises up for a shot during USC’s 83-57 loss against Stanford Feb. 6. (Colin Huang | Daily Trojan)

Despite a strong third-quarter performance, USC fell to its
cross-town rivals UCLA 73-60 in the first round of the PAC-12 Tournament in Las Vegas Wednesday. 

Coming into the tournament as the No. 10 seed with their 5-12 conference record, the Trojans went up against the No. 7 seed Bruins with an 8-8 conference record. 

The score was close heading into halftime with USC only down 7. Then, the Trojans came out strong in the third quarter to tie things up going into the fourth. Nevertheless, UCLA proved too much for the Trojans, as they outscored USC 27-14 to end the game, leading to its victory. 

“I was really proud of the way we fought back in the third quarter when things on paper weren’t really going our way,” said Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb in a postgame press conference. “It is the start of something for us, not the end of something, even though it feels like the end right now.” 

The two standout performances from the game included graduate student forward Jordan Sanders and freshman forward Rayah Marshall who had 18 and 17 points, respectively. 

Marshall notched a double-double once again with 10 rebounds during the game — her fourth double-double in the last five games.  Marshall also performed well on the defensive end, with 2 steals and 1 block. Sanders also picked up 5 rebounds during the game.

“I grew mentally, physically stronger. Once I got the hang of things, I felt like I was able to get the rhythm of college basketball,” Marshall said about her season. “But, what I will say, what I can take in going next season, is this fire feeling that I am feeling right now … Next time around, I am going to carry this same feeling and take it out on whoever is on the other side.”

Both players received Pac-12 honors for their play this season. Marshall was voted to the All-Pac-12 Freshman Team and was an All-Defensive Honorable Mention, while Sanders was an All-Pac-12 and All-Defensive Honorable Mention.  

With this loss, it marks the likely end of the women’s basketball season as the Trojans are not projected to make March Madness. 

USC finished with a 12-16 overall record in Gottlieb’s inaugural season with the squad after serving as a Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach the previous two years. 

“There is no blueprint for the end of the season. There is no blueprint for a loss in a one-and-done tournament situation,” Gottlieb said. “I am sad to not have another game with this group.”