USC Women’s Basketball Has Extended Pac-12 Business Trip This Week
USC (9-11, 2-8) at Utah (13-7, 4-4)
John M Huntsman Center | Salt Lake City, Utah
Sunday, Jan. 9 | 12 p.m. MT
Series Record [since 1977-78]: USC leads 17-7 (W3)
Last Meeting: W 66-49 [2/14/21 • Salt Lake City]
STREAM | STATS
USC at Washington (5-11, 0-8)
Alaska Airlines Arena | Seattle, Wash.
Friday, Feb. 5 | 7 p.m.
Series Record [since 1986-87]: USC trails 34-37 (W2)
Last Meeting: W 63-54 [2/5/21 • Seattle]
TV: Pac-12 Washington (Talent: Elise Woodward & Stephanie Hawk Freeman)
STREAM | STATS
USC at Washington State (14-7, 6-4)
Beasley Coliseum | Pullman, Wash.
Sunday, Feb. 7 | 12 p.m.
Series Record [since 1981-82]: USC leads 54-19 (L1)
Last Meeting: W 81-71 [2/7/21 • Pullman]
TV: Pac-12 Washington
STREAM | STATS
USC has three games in a five-day span ahead with an extended Pac-12 road trip on the docket. First, the Trojans (9-11, 2-8 Pac-12) play a makeup game at Utah (13-7, 4-4) at 2 p.m. MT on Wednesday (Feb. 9) in Salt Lake City. Then it's on to Seattle for a 7 p.m. test at Washington (5-11, 0-8) on Friday (Feb. 11) before a visit to Pullman to face Washington State (14-7, 6-4) at 12 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 13).
IN THE NATION
USC was receiving votes in the Nov. 15 AP poll, but is now unranked in the national polls.
The Utes enter the week at 13-7 overall and 4-4 in Pac-12 play after a 72-66 win over WSU and a 71-66 win over Washington last week. Brynna Maxwell leads Utah in scoring with 12.2 points, and Jenna Johnson leads on the boards with 4.7 rebounds per game. In a series dating back to 1977-1978, USC is 17-7 all time against Utah with wins in the last three meetings. USC faced the Utes twice last year, beating them 60-59 at the Galen Center, and 66-49 at Utah.
The Huskies enter the week at 5-11 overall and 0-8 in Pac-12 play after a 43-66 loss to Colorado and a 66-71 loss to Utah last week. Haley Van Dyke leads Washington with 10.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. In a series dating back to 1986-87, USC is 34-37 all-time against Washington after a 73-66 win over the Huskies last month at Galen Center.
The Cougars enter the week at 14-7 overall and 6-4 in Pac-12 play after a 66-72 loss to Utah and a 63-56 win over CU Boulder last week. Charlisse Leger-Walker leads Washington State in scoring with 17.2 points, and Bella Murekatete leads on the boards with 7.1 rebounds per game. In a series dating back to 1981-82, USC is 54-19 all-time against WSU after having an eight-game win streak against the Cougars snapped with a 71-63 loss last month at Galen Center.
USC took two home losses last week, falling to Cal and No. 2 Stanford at Galen Center. Against the Golden Bears on Friday, USC had Jordyn Jenkins and Rayah Marshall record double-doubles for the second time in the past three games, but it was visiting Cal that had the final word, netting a late 3-pointer to claim a 62-59 win over the Trojans. USC was shooting 28.6 percent from the floor by halftime to trail Cal's 31.3 percent effort as the Trojans were behind 28-25 at the break. USC would make up ground on a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter and take a 59-57 lead in the final minute, but Cal's late 3-pointer turned things over to the Golden Bears. USC finished up the game shooting 36.1 percent to edge out Cal's final effort of 32.3 percent, but the Bears nit six 3-pointers to four from the Trojans, and benefited from a 16-of-22 effort from the free-throw line while USC went 11-of-16. USC recorded a season-high 13 blocks, led by Marshall's four and three from Jenkins. The Trojans were paced by a career-high 26 points along with 11 rebounds from Jordyn Jenkins along with Rayah Marshall's 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks tonight. Alissa Pili also hit double figures with 10 points for USC. Cal was led by Jayda Curry's 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line, and had Leilani McIntosh score 15. Two days later, USC came up against a sharp No. 2 Stanford squad, as the Cardinal stayed perfect in Pac-12 play with an 83-57 win over the host Trojans. USC had a strong third quarter, but could not carve down the Cardinal's advantage in taking a sixth consecutive loss in Pac-12 action. The Cardinal hit seven second-half 3-pointers to finish with 10 on the day, while USC got just one three to go in the game. Stanford finished up shooting 43.7 percent overall from the floor to USC's 33.3 percent, ad the Cardinal won on the boards 48-34. USC received another team-high scoring effort from sophomore Jordyn Jenkins, who finished with 20 point — 19 of which came in the second half. Jordan Sanders also hit double figures with 12 points, and Rayah Marshall added 10 for the Trojans. Stanford, meanwhile, was paced by Cameron Brink's 26 points and 14 rebounds, with Hannah Jump adding 12 points — all on second-half 3-pointers.
Thanks in part to a season-high 13 blocks vs. Cal on Friday, USC currently ranks No. 2 in the nation among Division I teams with the Trojans' 6.5 blocks per game average. That's thanks in part to freshman Rayah Marshall's 2.35 blocks per game, which ranks her No. 18 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 15 games.
ON A ROLL
Sophomore Jordyn Jenkins is now riding a streak of 11 straight double-digit games. What's more, she entered the week ranked No. 3 in the Pac-12 (No. 36 in the nation) with her field-goal shooting percentage of 53.0.
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.
POSTPONED PAC-12 PLAY
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 also had its game at Utah postponed, with that contest rescheduled for this week (Feb. 9) in Salt Lake City.
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. It is the ninth all-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honor for the USC program.
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.
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.