USC Continues Long-Standing Rivalry With Long Beach State
USC (2-4) vs. Long Beach State (1-0)
Galen Center | Los Angeles, Calif.
Wednesday, Dec. 23 | 4 p.m.
Series Record (since 1973-74): USC trails 26-28 (W10)
Last Meeting: W 57-40 [12/21/19 • Galen Center]
USC has a nonconference clash on the docket next, with the Trojans (2-4) setting up to host Long Beach State (1-0) at 4 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 23) at Galen Center. There's no nonconference team that USC has faced more than Long Beach State, with a rivalry that began in 1973-74. This Wednesday's clash with the Beach is the 55th on record, with Long Beach State holding a 28-26 all-time advantage.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in this week's AP and Coaches polls.
SCOUTING THE BEACH
The Beach is 1-0 overall after opening the season with a 70-59 win over Westmont. Justina King led Long Beach State with 21 points in that win, while Ma'Qhi Berry & Kristyna Jeskeova had six rebounds apiece. In a series dating back to the 1973-74 season, USC is 26-28 all-time against Long Beach State with wins in the last 10 meetings. Last season, the Trojans beat the Beach 57-40 at Galen Center.
USC's LAST ACTION
USC exploded in the second quarter to create some distance between the Trojans and visiting Cal, landing five 3-pointers in that frame to fuel up for an eventual 77-54 victory over the Golden Bears at Galen Center. USC poured out 13 straight points across the first and second quarters while piling up seven 3-pointers in the first half to craft a comfortable lead over Cal, up 45-26 by halftime. The Trojans were shooting 55 percent from the floor in those first 20 minutes, thanks in part to an incredible 5-of-6 effort from 3-point range in the second quarter. By the final buzzer, USC had shot 47.6 overall, going 12-of-26 from 3-point range and outrebounding Cal 40-35. The Golden Bears shot 36.5 percent from the floor and was 1-of-11 on threes. USC had four players finish in double digits, led by grad transfer Jordan Sanders' new USC-high of 22 points on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Endyia Rogers was next for USC with 18 points, with Desiree Caldwell adding 12 and Amaya Oliver delivering 11 points. Caldwell also served up a career-high seven assists. Cal had three Bears in double digits: Michelle Onyiah with 16 point and Evelien Lutje Schipholt and Dalayah Daniels with 11 each. Daniels also had 11 rebounds for Cal.
- With 22 points, SR F Jordan Sanders set her USC high and scored in double digits for the fourth straight game.
- With her five 3-pointers made, Sander set a new career high (previous best was three) — it was the most 3-pointers made by a Trojan since teammate Madison Campbell hit five in USC's season opener vs. LMU.
- With 18 points, SO G Endyia Rogers scored in double digits for the fifth game this season.
- JR G Desiree Caldwell tied her career high of seven assists.
- USC's 12 threes made matches the third most in program history.
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 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. •