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USC Women’s Basketball Shoves Off To Oregon To Face Beavers, No. 19 Ducks

Jan 25, 2022

USC (9-7, 1-3) at Oregon St. (9-4, 2-1)
Beasley Coliseum | Corvallis, Ore.
Friday, Jan. 28 | 7 p.m. 
Series Record: USC leads 44-30 (L1)
Last Meeting: L 77-52 [2/19/21 • Galen Center]
TV: Pac-12 Oregon (Talent: Rich Burk & Elise Woodward)

USC at #19 Oregon (11-5, 3-1)
Matthew Knight Arena | Eugene, Ore.
Sunday, Jan. 30 | 12 p.m. 
Series Record: USC leads 45-28 (L10)
Last Meeting: L 72-48 [2/21/21 • Galen Center]
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Talent: Rich Burk & Maylana Martin Douglas)

THIS WEEK         
USC has a Pac-12 road trip ahead with a journey through Oregon this week. The Trojans (9-7, 2-4 Pac-12) first visit Oregon State (9-4, 2-1) for a 7 p.m. clash on Friday (Jan. 28) in Corvallis before heading to Eugene to take on Oregon (11-5, 3-1) at 12 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 30). 

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

The Beavers are 9-4 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play after beating Washington 47-41 last week. Talia von Oelhoffen leads OSU in scoring with 13.3 points per game, and Kennedy Brown leads on the  boards with 7.7 rebounds per game. In a series dating back to 1976-77, USC is 44-30 all-time against OSU after a split last season. That year, USC beat the Beavers 72-66 at Galen Center and lost 77-52 in Corvallis.

The No. 19 Ducks enter the week at 11-5 overall and 3-1 in Pac-12 play after beating Washington 68-61 last week. Nyara Sabally leads Oregon with 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. In a series dating back to 1980-81, USC is 45-28 all-time against Oregon with losses in the past 10 meetings. Last season, USC lost 92-69 to the Ducks in Eugene and fell 72-48 at Galen Center. USC's last win over Oregon was a 74-67 victory on Jan. 4, 2016 at Galen Center. USC's last win in Eugene was an 88-78 victory on Feb. 14, 2014.

USC had back-to-back tests against rival UCLA last week and came away with losses in both, falling 66-43 at Pauley Pavilion and then 68-58 at Galen Center. In the first meeting, USC was plagued by a pile of turnovers that kept the Trojans from keeping pace with UCLA. The Trojans lost ground early on the Bruins, and wound up with a 66-43 loss at Pauley Pavilion in Pac-12 play. USC was hampered by 16 first-half turnovers, helping to fuel UCLA's fire as the Bruins shot 50 percent from the floor and led it 37-24 by halftime. USC was shooting at a 40-percent clip and led on the boards 24-13, but those giveaways turned into 15 UCLA points in those first 20 minutes of action. Eleven more Trojan turnovers occurred in the second half, while USC's scoring effort took a dive. The Trojans wrapped up shooting 27.6 percent from the floor with just 2-of-17 three made. UCLA, meanwhile, shot 42.4 percent overall and hit six threes. USC did still hold the advantage on the boards, 46-32, but those 27 total turnovers gifted the Bruins 21 points on the night. USC's bright spot was Jordyn Jenkins' second carer double-double. She was the only Trojan to hit double digits tonight with her 17 points and 11 rebounds. UCLA had three Bruins in double figures, led by Ilmar'I Thomas' 20 along with 11 for Charisma Osborne and 10 from Natalie Chou — all in the fourth quarter. On Sunday night at Galen Center, USC was hampered by UCLA's hot shooting out of the gates in the Trojans' second straight clash with their rival, falling 68-58. UCLA's scoring output outpaced the Trojans in the first half to account for the Bruins' 38-29 halftime advantage. UCLA shot 58.3 percent in those first 20 minutes, with five 3-pointers nailed, while USC was at 46.2 percent with a trio of treys. UCLA also benefited from a bevy of trips to the free-throw line, going 13-of-15 from the stripe to USC's 4-of-7 effort. USC fought back to tie it up twice in the third, but lost ground later and was unable to carve closer. USC finished the game shooting 40.8 percent while UCLA dropped to finish at 39.6 percent. The Bruins wrapped up with six 3-pointers made to five from the Trojans, and UCLA led on the boards 36-28. The free-throw edge also went to the Bruins, who shot 20-of-23 from the stripe to USC's 13-of-19.

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 entered the week ranked No. 5 in the nation among Division I teams with the Trojans' 6.4 blocks per game average. That's thanks in part to freshman Rayah Marshall's 2.19 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. She has served up at least one block in the past 11 games.

ON A ROLL        
Sophomore Jordyn Jenkins is riding a streak of seven straight double-digit games, including four consecutive games with team-high scoring. What's more, she currently ranks No. 2 in the Pac-12 (No. 21 in the nation) with her field-goal shooting percentage of 52.6.

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. 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 have received national acclaim as the 2021-22 women's basketball season was getting 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.

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.

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.