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USC Women Open 2021 In Oregon, Facing The Ducks Friday

Dec 29, 2020

LIVE STATS | WATCH LIVE (Pac-12 Network)

USC (3-4, 1-4) at #8 Oregon (7-0, 5-0)
Matthew Knight Arena | Eugene, Ore.
Friday, Jan. 1 | 6 p.m. 
Series Record: USC leads 45-26 (L8)
Last Meeting: L 93-67 [2/16/20 • Galen Center]
TV: P12N / P12LA / P12OR 
(Talent: Ann Schatz & Elise Woodward)
STREAM | STATS 

USC at Oregon State
Sunday, Jan. 3 | Corvallis, Ore.
— POSTPONED —

THIS WEEK         
USC kicks off the New Year by resuming Pac-12 play, carrying a two-game win streak into its road trip to Oregon. The journey will be shorter than originally planned, with Sunday's game at Oregon State postponed indefinitely due to the Beavers' pause of activity due to COVID-19 protocols. The Trojans (3-4, 1-4 Pac-12) are still on tap to visit No. 8 Oregon (7-0, 5-0) as scheduled, with a date set with the Ducks at 6 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 1) in Eugene, Ore. That game will be televised on Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Los Angeles and Pac-12 Oregon with Ann Schatz and Elise Woodward on the call.

IN THE NATION        
USC is unranked in this week's AP and Coaches polls. 

SCOUTING OREGON        
The No. 8 Ducks are 7-0 overall and 5-0 in Pac-12 play after a 73-49 win over Washington and a 69-65 victory over WSU in their last action. Erin Boley is Oregon's top scorer with 13-4 points per game, and Nyara Sabally leads on the boards with 8.3 rebounds per game. In a series dating back to the 1980-81 season, USC is 45-26 all-time against Oregon with losses in the last eight meetings. USC's last win over the Ducks was a 74-67 victory in the 2015-16 season at Galen Center. Last season, USC lost to Oregon  93-67 in their conference meeting in Los Angeles.

OREGON STATE ON PAUSE        
As announced Dec. 26 by the university, team activities for the Oregon State women's basketball team will remain paused due to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing protocols within the program. As a result, Oregon State's games against UCLA (Jan. 1) and USC (Jan. 3) have been postponed indefinitely.

USC'S LAST ACTION        
USC was an efficient 50-percent from the floor as the Trojans outpaced visiting Long Beach State 71-65 at Galen Center. The Beach got to within four points late in the fourth, but USC held off the visitors to mark its second straight win. USC manufactured an 11-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters, but the Beach battled back and the teams were even at 30-30 by halftime. A powerful third quarter created the space that the Trojans would need down the stretch, outscoring the Beach 20-10 in that frame and then holding off their visitors in the fourth. USC wrapped the game shooting a season-high 50 percent from the floor to go along with a season-best 47.1 percent effort from 3-point range at 8-of-17. Long Beach State finished up shooting 39 percent overall and was 9-of-22 from 3-point range. USC also won out on the boards 35-30. USC was led in scoring once again by Jordan Sanders, who scored a season-high 23 points for the Trojans. Endyia Rogers was next with 18 points, hitting four 3-pointers along the way, and Desiree Caldwell finished with 10 points. Long Beach State received 19 points from Naomi Hunt and 13 from Justina King, while Kristyna Jeskeova pulled in 12 rebounds for the Beach. 
NOTABLE:
- The win marked USC head coach Mark Trakh's 450th career victory.
- SR F Jordan Sanders had her first start as a Trojan today.
- With 23 points, Sanders had her second straight 20-point outing and set new high for herself as a Trojan.
- Sanders scored in double digits for the fifth straight game.
- With 8 assists, SO G Kyra White set a new career high.
- White's 7 rebounds tied her career high.
- With 18 points, SO G Endyia Rogers scored in double digits for the sixth game.
- USC's 50% shooting effort was a season high. 
- USC's. 47.1% 3-point effort was a season high.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE        
As a tumultuous 2020 comes to a close, the USC women's basketball team has shown its resilience and resolve in ringing up a shining academic performance this past semester. For the first time in at least 10 years, the team has cracked the 3.0 GPA barrier in amassing a 3.01 team cumulative GPA. The notable academic achievement was truly a team effort, with seven Women of Troy finishing the fall with a term GPA of at least 3.0. Among that group, Alissa Pili and Kyra White earned their highest term grades and GPAs of their academic careers. Joining those two in the over-3.0 GPA territory are Shalexxus Aaron, Alyson Miura, Amaya Oliver, India Otto and Jordan Sanders. Shining brightest among the Trojans' academic all-stars is Miura, who leads the pack with a perfect 4.0 semester GPA. Oliver, Otto and White all banked GPAs of 3.5 or better while taking at least 12 units of letter-graded courses, with Oliver shouldering a hefty courseload of 18 units in her first semester as a Trojan. 

SANDERS MAKES A SPLASH        
The Pac-12 Conference leader in 3-point percentage, Jordan Sanders led USC in scoring in back-to-back Trojan victories last week and was selected as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Dec. 28. The grad transfer set new USC scoring highs for herself with 22 points against Cal and 23 versus Long Beach State, while also hitting a career-high five 3-pointers in USC's first Pac-12 win of the season. Sanders followed up her impressive 22-point outing against the Golden Bears — where she was 5-of-7 from 3-point land — with the forward's first career start as a Trojan when USC squared off against the Beach. She would haul in her highest rebound count as a Trojan with eight boards to go along with her season-high 23 points in USC's 71-65 win. Sanders landed two more threes in that game, finishing her week's work averaging 70 percent from beyond the arc. That bumped her season average to 68.2 percent, keeping her solidly atop the Pac-12 leaderboard in 3-point percentage while also lifting her to fifth overall in the nation. Sanders is the first Trojan to earn the honor since Kristen Simon on Dec. 5, 2016. Also on Dec. 28, Sanders was selected as College Sports Madness' Pac-12 Player of the Week.

EXPECT EXPERIENCE     
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.
 
NEW CREW        
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 SENSATIONS        
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. 

VOTE ON        
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. 

SIGNED!        
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.

TRANSFER TIME        
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.

LAST SEASON        
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. •