USC Women Pack Up For Pac-12 Trip Through Arizona
USC (1-0) at Arizona State (2-0)
Desert Financial Arena | Tempe, Ariz.
Friday, Dec. 4 | 4 p.m. PT
Series Record: USC leads 56-27 (L3)
Home: 31-10 Away: 23-16 Neutral: 2-0
Last Meeting: L 76-75 (3ot) [1/31/20 • Tempe]
TV: P12N (Talent: Krista Blunk & Daron Sutton)
USC (1-0) at #7 Arizona (1-0)
McKale Center | Tucson, Ariz.
Sunday, Dec. 6 | 12 p.m. PT
Series Record: USC leads 58-26 (L4)
Home: 31-11 Away: 25-14 Neutral: 2-1
Last Meeting: L 73-57 [2/2/20 • Tucson]
With a season-opening victory under its belt, USC heads out of town for some action in the desert. The Trojans (1-0) open up Pac-12 play on the road, turning to take on Arizona State (2-0) at 5 p.m. MT / 4 p.m. PT on Friday (Dec. 4) in Tempe before rolling into Tucson to face No. 7 Arizona (1-0) at 1 p.m. MT / 12 p.m. PT on Sunday (Deb. 6). Friday's USC-ASU game will be televised by Pac-12 Network with Krista Blunk and Daron Sutton on the call. Sunday's game will be live streamed by Arizona.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in this week's AP and Coaches polls.
The Sun Devils are 2-0 overall after opening the season with a 56-47 win over Stephen F. Austin and a 49-40 win over VCU. Taya Hanson is leading ASU in scoring with 13.0 points per game, and Eboni Walker leads on the boards with 12.5 rebounds per game. USC is 57-27 all-time against ASU with losses in the last three meetings. Last year, USC lost to the Sun Devils 63-54 at Galen Center and the fell 76-75 in triple overtime in Tempe. The Trojans' last win over ASU was a 77-62 victory at Galen Center in the 2017-18 season.
The No. 7 Willdcats are 1-0 overall after opening the season with a 76-63 win over Northern Arizona. Cate Reese led Arizona with 21 points and 11 rebounds in that win. USC is 58-26 all-time against Arizona with losses in the last four meetings. Last year, USC lost to the Wildcats 65-57 at Galen Center and the fell 73-57 in Tucson. The Trojans' last win over Arizona was a 78-52 victory at Galen Center in the 2017-18 season.
A 16-0 onslaught in the fourth quarter doubled USC's lead and put the Trojans well on the path to a powerful 85-55 season-opening win over visiting LMU last week at Galen Center. Sophomore Endyia Rogers and Angel Jackson accounted for all 16 of those points in the surge, making them two of five Trojans to hit double figures en route to USC's victory. In their USC debuts, redshirt freshman Madison Campbell and true freshman Amaya Oliver made their presence known early and often. Both had their first points as Trojans logged in the first quarter as USC led the Lions 19-11 after 10 minutes of action. By the third quarter, Oliver had already secured her first career double-double, as she'd finish out the game with 17 points and 16 rebounds. So, too, did Campbell make some serious noise in her first outing. She landed five 3-pointers in the game. Campbell would lead all scorers on the day with her 19 points. Also hitting double digits for the Trojan cause were Rogers with 15 points and Jackson and Desiree Caldwell with 13 apiece. All told, the Trojans hit 11 threes in the win, shot 46 percent from the floor and out rebounded LMU 41-34. The Lions shot 38 percent with Ciera Ellington and Meghan Mandel leading LMU with 13 points each.
- FR F Amaya Oliver recorded the first double-double of her USC career (17 points, 16 rebounds)
- RS FR G Madison Campbell hit five 3-pointers in her first action as a Trojan
- Campbell's five 3-pointers made was the most in a single game since teammate Shalexxus Aaron hit five vs. Utah on March 3, 2019.
- Oliver's 16 rebounds was the most by a Trojan since teammate Alissa Pili hauled in 17 at Utah on Jan. 12, 2020
- SO G India Otto set a new career high with two 3-pointers made.
- USC's 11 threes made was the third most in a single game in program history (last hit in 2018)..
The only true senior on the USC roster this season is grad transfer Jordan Sanders, who has joined the Trojans from UC Irvine. Sanders' presence gives USC its second conference freshman of the year, as Sanders was the Big West's 2018 top freshman while USC's Alissa Pili picked up the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award last season. Pili and fellow sophomore Endyia Rogers are a proven one-two punch for USC, as the pair were the Trojans' top scorers in 2019-20. Pili and sophomore Angel Jackson packed the paint for the Trojans as freshmen, while sophomore sharpshooters Alyson Miura and India Otto were significant three-point threats, and Kyra White stood tall as a staunch defender and playmaker. That group got great experience as freshmen, making for a shiny sophomore campaign ahead. USC's "veterans" this year are junior Desiree Caldwell and redshirt sophomore Shalexxus Aaron — both captains alongside Pili this season.
USC's roster boasts five fresh-faced Trojans making their USC debuts in 2020-21. Jordan Sanders, as mentioned, spent three years at UC Irvine, joining true freshmen Jordyn Jenkins, Amaya Oliver and Zayla Tinner for their first seasons in Cardinal and Gold. Also tabbed for action this season is redshirt freshman Madison Campbell, who is coming off a redshirt season following back surgery last year.
Sophomore strength abounds for the USC women's basketball team this season, with Alissa Pili and Endyia Rogers at the forefront of the Trojans' youth movement. As the 2020-21 campaign drew near, Pili upgraded her national acclaim with a spot on the 2021 Jersey Mike's Naismith Trophy Watch List — recognized as one of the nation's top 50 players in line for the highest collegiate honor bestowed by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Also Pili and Rogers both picked up spots on the Pac-12 preseason honor roll. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and an All-Pac-12 Team honoree last season, Pili finished her debut year ranked in the nation's top-100 in five statistical categories. Already on the 2021 Watch List for the Katrina McClain Award as one of the top 20 small forwards in the land, Pili's placement on the Naismith Trophy Watch List further cements her as the Trojans' top gun and a player to keep a close eye on as her career continues to blossom. Pili's power has been well-known in the Pac-12 conference, and as her sophomore year unfurls the Trojan post has earned her place on the Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team. Fellow sophomore Endyia Rogers — USC's second leading scorer and top 3-point shooter last year — picked up Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Honorable Mention.
Amidst a tumultuous summer, the USC women's basketball team found a powerful way to set a course for themselves away from the gym. All 13 Women of Troy registered to vote, marking an important benchmark for the program as the 2020 elections approach. What's more, their action helped spark a department-wide initiative that was embraced by USC Athletics' Black Lives Matter Action Team to challenge every USC team to reach 100 percent registration for eligible U.S. voters. Thanks to their 2020 registration, USC women's basketball was able to have a voice in elections in five different states — Alaska, California, Oregon, Texas and Washington — in the 2020 elections and beyond.
USC welcomes a pair of powerful local products who combine forces as the nation's No. 7-ranked recruiting class according to ESPN. The No. 2-ranked center in the country, Clarice Uche Akunwafo comes to Troy from nearby Inglewood, Calif. ESPN's No. 27-ranked player in the land, guard/forward Rayah Marshall is a Los Angeles native. Both new Trojans signed their national letters of intent on Nov. 11. Both Akunwafo and Marshall also were recently named to the Watch List for the 2021 Jersey Mike's Naismith Trophy for High School Girls Player of the Year. A 6-6- center, Clarice Uche Akunwafo averaged 20.1 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game at Rolling Hills Prep. The Inglewood native also shot 56 percent from the floor and is a two-time All-CIF honoree. Her power at the post has earned her the nod as the No. 2 center in the nation and No. 21 player overall, according to ESPN. A Los Angeleno and another All-CIF regular, Rayah Marshall ranks No. 27 in the nation among this class of prospects. The 6-4 guard/forward hails from nearby Lynwood High, where she averaged 18.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.4 steals per game.
USC gets another boost in the backcourt with the addition of transfer Shemera Williams, USC head coach Mark Trakh has announced. After a season played at Virginia, Williams is on her way to Troy to become a Trojan this spring 2021. The state of Wisconsin's second leading scorer in girls high school basketball history with 3,120 career points, the Milwaukee Academy of Science product went on to average 8.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in her freshman campaign with the Cavaliers. A 5-8 guard, Williams was Virginia's third leading scorer as a freshman in 2019-20 and was a two-time ACC Freshman of the Week while also picking up national honors as a USBWA Tamika Catchings Freshman Player of the Week.
USC's postseason plans of a 2020 WNIT run were dashed back in March with the cancellation of all competition due to the pandemic. That left the Trojans with a 17-14 overall record, having reached the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament as the No. 7 seed. USC's top scorer and rebounder, Alissa Pili was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, earning a spot on the All-Pac-12 Team. Fellow freshman Endyia Rogers picked up All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention after standing as USC's second leading scorer. USC lost three seniors from that roster in Aliyah Jeune, Kayla Overbeck and Stephanie Watts. •