Skip to main content

USC Women's Basketball Doubles Up On Rivalry Action: Two Clashes With UCLA Ahead

Jan 18, 2022

USC (9-5, 2-2 Pac-12) vs. UCLA (7-4, 2-1)
Series Record (since 1971-72): USC trails 50-51 (L3)
Last Meeting: L 93-51 [12/13/20 • Pauley Pavilion]
THURSDAY, JAN. 20 • 6:30 p.m.
Pauley Pavilion | Westwood
TV: Pac-12 Networks & Los Angeles (Talent: Anne Marie Anderson & Mary Murphy) 
SUNDAY, JAN. 23 • 6 p.m.
Galen Center | Los Angeles
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Talent: Anne Marie Anderson & Ros Gold-Onwude)

THIS WEEK         
USC has back-to-back rivalry clashes ahead, squaring off against crosstown foe UCLA for two Pac-12 tilts this week. The Trojans (9-5, 2-2 Pac-12) will first pay a visit to the Bruins (7-4, 2-1) with a 6:30 p.m. meeting at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday (Jan. 20). UCLA will return the favor with a trip to Galen Center for a 6 p.m.  matchup on Sunday (Jan. 23). 

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

The Bruins are 7-4 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play after beating Washington 63-48 and WSU 71-58 last week. Charisma Osborne leads UCLA in scoring with 18.3 points per game, and Jaylynn Penn and Izzy Antsey lead on the  boards with 6.0 rebounds per game each. In a series dating back to 1971-72, USC is 50-51 all-time against UCLA with losses in the past three meetings. Last season, USC lost 73-52 to the Bruins at Galen Center and fell 93-51 at Pauley Pavilion. USC's last win over UCLA was a 70-68 double overtime victory on Jan. 17, 2020 at Galen Center.

USC wound up with a home split last week, falling to Washington State 71-63 and then beating Washington 73-66 in a  comeback effort at Galen  Center. USC saw an early lead get chipped away by the Cougars, who snagged their first lead of the game late in the third quarter and pressed on to get the win. A combined 12 threes fell in the first half of action, with the Trojans burying seven of those. USC had led it 12-0 early before WSU found its scoring touch and closed the gap to five points in the second quarter. But USC fired back and took a 37-30 lead by halftime. USC was shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range to that  point, while WSU shot 34.6 percent overall and 31.3 percent from beyond the arc through those first 20 minutes. USC was up on the boards 22-13 through that first half, with all eight Trojans who hit the court in the scoring column by the break. WSU would up its efforts on the boards and on the shooting front, finishing up on top in rebounding 35-34 and wrapping at 38.3 percent from the floor with nine threes made. USC finished shooting 40.4 percent, hitting a season-high 11 threes but remaining plagued by second-chance opportunities by the Cougars, who scored 17 points off second chances. USC was led by Jordyn Jenkins' 20 points and a career-high 15 from Bella Perkins. WSU had four players hit double digits, meanwhile, paced by 20 from Johanna Teder with 14 from Ula Motuga, 13 from Charlisse Leger-Walker and 10 from Bella Murekatete. Two days later, USC was fueled by 15 second-half points from birthday girl Jordyn Jenkins to turn the tide on visiting Washington. Washington crafted an early lead and kept pace from there in the first half, shooting 44.4 percent from the floor while knocking down four 3-pointers to hold a 10-point lead at the break. USC was shooting 39.3 percent with just a single three landed, while Washington also led on the boards 21-16 at halftime. In the second half, however, USC closed the gap and took over thanks to a 62-percent offensive output in the next 20 minutes. Only one more 3-pointer would fall for the Huskies, while USC poured out five to help the Trojans to the comeback win. USC wrapped the game shooting 50.9 percent from the floor to beat out Washington's final 40.6 percent effort. The Huskies still held the edge on the boards, 35-33. USC's Jenkins had a career day in matching her career high of 24 points to go with three 3-pointers made and a career-high five assists. Rayah Marshall was next with 15 points and a game-high seven rebounds, and Desiree Caldwell added 10 points and six assists to the Trojan cause. Washington was paced by Nancy Mulkey's 26 points, with Missy Peterson adding 10.

TOP-5 TAKEDOWN        
On Jan. 9, 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 enters the week ranked No. 3 in the nation among Division I teams with the Trojans' 6.9 blocks per game average. That's thanks in part to freshman Rayah Marshall's 2.36 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.

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.

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.

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. CLICK HERE FOR FAN ENTRY PROTOCOLS.

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: Thank you and Fight On!