USC Women’s Basketball Hosts Antelope Valley In Exhibition Game at Galen Center
USC is lined up for exhibition action this weekend, hosting Antelope Valley for a primer to the 2021-22 campaign that officially opens up next week. The Women of Troy will take on the Pioneers at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 6) at Galen Center. The event is free to the public.
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IN THE NATION
USC is unranked the 2021-22 preseason AP and Coaches polls.
For the second year in a row, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has tabbed USC's Alissa Pili as one of the top 20 power forwards in the nation. The junior has again been named to the preseason watch list for the Katrina McClain Award. Additionally, Pili also has earned a repeat appearance on the Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team. One of the most versatile and impressive players in the game today, Pili has been an impact player since arriving at USC as a freshman. Named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and to the All-Pac-12 Team in 2020, Pili fought through injury as a sophomore to earn All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention. This year, the junior is a captain for the Women of Troy and is tabbed for duty in several different roles. An unquestionable power in the paint, Pili boasts great ball skills as well as the range to knock down 3-pointers. She enters her junior year averaging 14.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game to go along with a .502 shooting effort from the floor and .799 mark from the free-throw line. Pili was also named to the Katrina McClain Award preseason watch list last year entering her sophomore campaign. Named after the two-time All-American and 1987 National Player of the Year, the annual award in its fifth year recognizes the top power forwards in women's NCAA Division I college basketball. A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates.
HEALTH & SAFETY PROTOCOLS
All fans 2 and older attending USC basketball home games will be required to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
First up for the Women of Troy is an exciting nonconference stretch that features eight home games at Galen Center. USC's road action includes a visit to Virginia to face Trojan great Tina Thompson's Cavalier squad, two tilts at the Cancun Challenge and a visit to one of USC's longest rivalries — Long Beach State. Meanwhile, USC's nonconference home slate opens with an exhibition matchup against Antelope Valley on November 6, followed by the official home opener against Hawai'i. That game has some sentimental value with former associate head coach Laura Beeman now at the helm of the Rainbow Wahine, with two USC alums and former women's basketball staff members Alex Delanian and Jason Hill also on the Hawai'i coaching staff. Other out-of-state visitors to Troy will be Western Michigan (Nov. 18) and Missouri State (Nov. 20) before the Trojans head to Cancun to play UCF and Iowa. Then it's back to Galen Center for four games — UC Irvine (Dec. 2), San Francisco (Dec. 5) and CSUN (Dec. 15). Another Trojan reunion presents itself on Dec. 18, when Trojan legend Cynthia Cooper's Texas Southern squad comes to town.
WE GOT GOTT
The 2021-22 USC roster, helmed by new head coach and basketball scientist extraordinaire Lindsay Gottlieb, is teeming with talent and balance — ingredients that Gottlieb is eager to formulate into a competitive and successful program. The USC women have fallen short of the NCAA Tournament field for the past seven seasons while competing in arguably the most competitive women's basketball conference in the land. Fortunately, Gottlieb gleaned plenty of experience navigating the Pac-12 and beyond while at the helm of the California program. Following that, her two years as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA served to broaden both her gamesmanship and her passion for player development. Now the leader of the Women of Troy, Gottlieb and her staff are set on securing an upward trajectory for the USC program.
When it comes to toughness. Look no further than junior Alissa Pili. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2020, Pili is one of the strongest and most versatile posts in the nation. She is the linchpin for the Trojans, with a talented array of skilled posts also tagged for time in the paint. Length will not be a problem for USC this season, with 6-foot-5 junior Angel Jackson joined by two highly anticipated freshmen in 6-6 Clarice Uche Akunwafo and 6-4 Rayah Marshall. Meanwhile, athletic sophomore Jordyn Jenkins turned heads as a freshman, adding extra punch to the paint.
Veteran status largely belongs to the backcourt. Senior Desiree Caldwell has been a devoted and reliable runner of the point, while grad student Jordan Sanders and grad transfer Tera Reed offer up extensive experience as well. USC's second leading scorer last year, Sanders returns for a second season at USC, bringing back her incredible 3-point accuracy and versatility. A transfer from VCU, Reed is poised, savvy and skilled. And when it comes to bringing up the ball, Caldwell can also confidently give way to junior Kyra White, redshirt sophomore Alyson Miura and true freshman Bella Perkins.
Which brings us to USC's perimeter firepower. Sanders clearly stands out as the foremost 3-point threat for the Trojans, but there are plenty of others who wield hot hands. Caldwell, Miura and Madison Campbell combined for 44 threes landed last season. Perkins and Reed, meanwhile, are poised to add to that arsenal in their first seasons at USC. But don't count out the Trojan posts. Pili has shown her range in the past, and there's plenty of others with the ability to extend their attack.
CLEAR BAGS, PLEASE!
At Galen Center, the safety of our guests is of paramount importance. Galen Center has enhanced security measures including a clear bag policy. To review the policy and to ensure you come to your next event at Galen Center fully prepared please go to: www.galencenter.org/assets/img/Clear-Bag-Policy-0b9d0e3076.jpg. Thank you and Fight On!