Women’s basketball continues marauding run

There wasn’t a moment of silence inside the Galen Center during Tuesday’s women’s basketball practice. In preparation for their game against California Baptist University on Wednesday, the Trojans were focused on communication and building chemistry between each other; yelling to each other when to switch, when to stay home and when to get help defense on the inside.

“Winning teams are loud teams, winning teams are teams that communicate through all the different scenarios on the floor, so they’ve been working on that,” said Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb.

Now in her second season as the coach of the Trojans, Gottlieb has gotten USC off to their best start to a season since 2018-2019. The culture around USC’s women’s basketball program is on the rise with the help of Gottlieb. Aside from the major recruitment of Juju Watkins coming next year, the Trojans got to work in the transfer portal this year.

They added seven transfers to the roster, all of whom have been major contributors already this season. Gottlieb expects the team only to get better as they learn to play with each other as the season progresses.

“With seven transfers, eight new people, we’ve really been intentional about trying to use these games to continue to get better and grow together,” said Gottlieb in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “We’re gonna have to raise our level to be as competitive as we want to be; teams get bigger, stronger, but that’s why we’ve been trying to work on our habits through this non-conference [schedule].”

With a win against the Lancers on Wednesday, USC will be one of the three  teams in the Pac-12 with a perfect six wins to zero losses, alongside University of Arizona and University of Utah. However, it will not be an easy task as this is a Cal Baptist team that won 23 games a season ago.

The Trojans hope to get some help in the game from their leading scorer, graduate forward Kadi Sissoko. The transfer from the University of Minnesota is currently averaging 17.8 points per game on over 66 percent shooting.

“Coming to a new team and trying to change the culture and build new habits is obviously a privilege,” said Sissoko. “[My teammates] try to see me when I get open, and it’s just been teamwork, and as of right now, I’ve been successful in that.”

The recipe for USC’s success so far this year has been their strong defense. They currently allow only 48.2 points per game, the fifth-best mark in the entire country. This game against Cal Baptist will test the Trojans’ defense, as the Lancers are one of the top offensive teams in the nation. They currently average 78.3 points per game, the 36th-best average for a Division 1  team. Graduate guard Destiny Littleton, who is third on the team in steals, knows the team will be ready for CBU by the time tip-off comes.

“They’re a dribble drive and kick team, so we gotta make sure that we’re guarding our person one-on-one making sure help side is there while worrying about their three,” said Littleton. “It’s gonna be a tough game. They’re really physical, so we got to come out here and be prepared to hit first.”

USC will take on Cal Baptist on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at  Galen Center.