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USC Women’s Basketball Hosts WSU And Washington At Galen Center

Jan 11, 2022

USC (8-4, 1-1) vs. Washington St. (9-5, 1-2)
Galen Center | Los Angeles, Calif.
Friday, Jan. 14 | 7 p.m. 
Series Record [since 1981-82]: USC leads 54-18 (W8)
Last Meeting: W 81-71 [2/7/21 • Pullman]
TV: P12 Networks (Talent: Anne Marie Anderson & Tammy Blackburn)

USC vs. Washington (5-3, 0-0)
Galen Center | Los Angeles, Calif.
Sunday, Jan. 16 | 12 p.m. 
Series Record [since 1986-87]: USC trails 33-37 (W1)
Last Meeting: W 63-54 [2/5/21 • Seattle]
TV: P12 Networks (Talent: Anne Marie Anderson & Tammy Blackburn)

THIS WEEK         
Fresh off interrupting No. 4 Arizona's undefeated season, USC digs in for more Pac-12 play at Galen Center this week. The Trojans (8-4, 1-1 Pac-12) will host Washington State (9-5, 1-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 14) before turning to take on Washington (5-3, 0-0) at 12 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 16). Both games will be closed to the general public for the health and safety of the community and in alignment with USC's decision to open the Spring semester with remote instruction.

Indoor events at USC continue to be closed to the general public for the health and safety of the community and in alignment with USC's decision to open the Spring semester with remote instruction. This attendance policy will be in effect through close of business on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, but is subject to extension or change if necessary. Only the families and guests of team members will be permitted to attend such events, and all gameday health and safety protocols remain in effect. Tickets will not be available to the general public, and non-ticketed guests should not come to the event venues. Season and single-game ticket purchasers will be contacted by the USC Athletics Ticket Office with information regarding refunds and credits to their accounts.

USC was receiving votes in the Nov. 15 AP poll, but is now unranked in the national polls.

The Cougars are 9-5 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play after a 60-52 loss at No. 4 Arizona last week. Charlisse Leger-Walker leads WSU in scoring with 16.6 points per game, and Bella Murekatete leads on the  boards with 7.5 rebounds per game. In a series dating back to 1981-82, USC is 54-18 all-time against WSU with wins in the past eight meetings. Last season, USC beat the Cougars 81-77 in overtime at Galen Center and then won 81-71 in Pullman.

The Huskies enter the week at 5-3 overall and 0-0 in Pac-12 play. Their most recent action was a 58-42 win over Nevada on Dec. 20 before COVID-19 protocols paused competition for their program. Washington will face UCLA on Friday before coming to USC. Haley Van Dyke leads the Huskies with 12.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. In a series dating back to 1986-87, USC is 33-37 all-time against Washington after a 63-54 win over the Huskies in Seattle in their only Pac-12 meeting of the season last year.

USC came up with a split in is first stretch of Pac-12 competition, following up a 71-58 road loss at Colorado with  a 76-67 upset win over previously undefeated No. 4 Arizona  at Galen Center. The Trojans were unable to throw Colorado off its winning roll, getting to within two in the second quarter before Colorado regrouped and took control. Colorado's five-point halftime advantage was largely created from the free-throw line, as the Buffs went 8-of-10 from the stripe while USC amassed 10 first-half fouls to just three by Colorado. USC was shooting 44 percent from the floor in those first 20 minutes to outpace the Buffs' 33 percent effort, but Colorado gripped a 34-29 lead at the break. The Buffs kept coming, though, landing three key 3-pointers in the second half while USC came up empty beyond the arc in those final 20 minutes. The Trojans were also plagued by 20 turnovers in the game. By the final buzzer, USC had shot 41.1 percent from the floor to Colorado's 34.7 percent, but the Buffs owned the offensive boards 19-10 to get extra chances. USC and Colorado finished even on the boards overall, 45-45.USC's scoring efforts were led by Jordyn Jenkins' 14 points and a career-high 10 from Bella Perkins. On the boards, Rayah Marshall collected 10 rebounds and Alissa Pili had nine. Colorado had four players finish in double digits, led by Mya Hollingshed's 18 points along with 15 each from Jaylyn Sherrod and Frida Formann and a double-double from Quay Miller with 13 points and 10 rebounds.  Two days  later back in Los Angeles, USC went toe-to-toe with the No. 4 team in the nation and stepped up when it counted, with Alyson Miura burying four huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to pull the Trojans toward a 76-67 win over previously undefeated Arizona. The top-10 takedown was USC's first since 2020, and the first win over a top-five  opponent since 2014.  The lead changed hands six times in the first half en route to a 34-34 lockup at halftime. An Arizona buzzer-beater had knotted up the score at the break, with the bomb being the Wildcats' fifth 3-pointer of that half. USC was shooting 36.7 percent from the floor to that point, leading Arizona's 35.5 percent while the Wildcats were up on the boards 21-18. In the second half, USC found the gas pedal when it counted, with Miura going 4-for-4 from 3-point range in the last 5:01 of action to fuel the Trojans' push to victory. By  the final buzzer, USC had heated up to finish the game shooting at a 45.5 percent clip from the floor, while Arizona finished at 36.1 percent. Arizona edged out USC on the boards 36-34. All eight Trojans who hit the floor scored at least one basket. Miura's 5-of-6 effort from beyond the arc marked a career best for the junior, who led USC's scoring charge with 15 points. Jordyn Jenkins finished with 14 points — all  in the second half — and Desiree Caldwell added 12 for her first double-digit game of the season. Arizona, meanwhile, received a game-high 29 points from Cate Reese and 12 from Bendu Yeaney.

USC's first three scheduled Pac-12 games were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. The Trojans' game at UCLA was affected by COVID-    19  protocols within  the Bruins' program and has been moved to January 20. The Arizona and ASU games were postponed by COVID-19  protocols with the USC program. The USC-Arizona game was rescheduled for Jan. 11, with the Trojans claiming a 76-67 win over the then-No.  4 Wildcats.

USC entered the week ranked No. 2 in the nation among Division I teams with the Trojans' 7.4 blocks per game average. That's thanks in part to freshman Rayah Marshall's 2.42 blocks per game, which ranks her No. 19 in the nation and No. 1 out of all  freshmen. Earlier this season, Marshall served up six blocks against UCF to tally the fifth most single-game blocks by a Trojan.

Following a takedown of the No. 4 team in the nation, USC snagged its first weekly award from the Pac-12 on Jan. 10, with Rayah Marshall named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week. Marshall has recorded at least one block in seven straight games for the Trojans, and she is the nation's top freshman in that category with 2.42 blocks per game. In USC's first Pac-12 competition of the season, Marshall averaged 9.0 points, 8,0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game across a road loss to undefeated Colorado and USC's upset win over No. 4 Arizona. Marshall had her second straight double-digit rebounding effort against the Buffs with 10 boards along with four blocks. Two days later against an undefeated Wildcat squad, Marshall had nine points, six rebounds and another big block to help her Trojans along to their first win over a top-5 opponent since 2014. Marshall is the first USC freshman to win the award since Alissa Pili won her fourth such selection on March 2, 2020. This is the ninth all-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honor for the USC program.

USC brought a road win home from a cross-country visit to Virginia, where the Trojans topped the Cavaliers 65-48. Freshman Clarice Akunwafo tallied a double-double for the Trojans as USC turned a one-point margin into a 17-point lead during the second half thanks to some stingy defense and effective offense. USC is now 2-0 overall with today's road win. Jordan Sanders was in double digits by halftime for the Trojans, who shot 37.0 percent from the floor in this first 20 minutes to just outpace Virginia's 33.3 percent effort. The Cavaliers were ahead on the boards 35-30 at that point, but USC had help on the offensive end from four 3-pointers landed by halftime to help USC lead it 34-39 at halftime. By the final buzzer, USC had left Virginia well behind, finishing up shooting 35.9 recent from the floor while UVA wrapped at 28.1 percent. USC ended up winning the battle onto boards 52, 45, thanks in part to a career-high 10 rebounds apiece from senior guard Desiree Caldwell and freshman center Clarice Akunwafo. Akunwafo was one of four Trojans to score in double figures, putting in 10 points while fellow freshman Rayah Marshall led all scorers with 16 points. Tera Reed and Jordan Sanders each had 13 apiece. Virginia's top scorer was Taylor Valladay with nine points.

PILI POWER        
Junior Alissa Pili's talents continue to receive national acclaim as the 2021-22 women's basketball season gets underway. On November 9, the USC forward was named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 Watch List as well as the Naismith Trophy Watch List. It is Pili's second selection to the Naismith Watch List. 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. Recently, Pili was also named to the Katrina McClain Award Preseason Watch List for the second straight year, recognizing her again as one of the top 20 power forwards in the nation. She also has a spot on the 2021-22 Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team.

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.

TROJAN TOUGH            
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 Akunwafo and 6-4 Rayah Marshall. Meanwhile, athletic sophomore Jordyn Jenkins turned heads as a freshman, adding extra punch to the paint.

WELL VETTED            
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.

HOT HANDS            
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 are plenty of others with the ability to extend their attack.

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