The USC women’s basketball team limped their way into the Pac-12 Conference Tournament. Before the Trojans took on Arizona State in the first round of the tournament, USC had lost its last three games in the regular season. They dropped four out of the last five contests they played.
USC ended its regular season with a 93-51 thumping at the hands of UCLA. All signs pointed to the Trojans playing over themselves in order to make a decent showing at the tournament. They got the first part right.
Behind 16 points and six rebounds from Jordyn Jenkins, USC got out of the gate quickly against the Sun Devils and played their way to an eventual 71-65 win.
“I thought it was a good game. Both sides played well,” USC head coach Mark Trakh said after the game. “We had a good first half. Arizona State had a good second half. It was just a well-played game, and luckily we were up by six or seven points. I was proud of the kids. I was proud of the way the kids played. I’ve got the two Jordans with me right now, and both Jordans played very well. Jordan Sanders and Jordyn Jenkins did a nice job, and I was proud of the entire team.”
Jenkins was not the only star of the show for the Trojans. She had some re-enforcement with her. In total, USC had four players score in double-figures as the Trojans sprinted out to an early lead and never looked back. Jordan Sanders scored 14 points and Alissa Pili chipped in 12. Helping the Trojans spread the ball around was team maestro Endyia Rogers, who was responsible for 15 points and 11 assists.
As far as what made the difference in the ballgame, Jenkins said the Trojans came together and played as a unit.
“I think we just got the ball moving and we just played well together,” said Jenkins. “Once we get the passes going and running in transition, we’re a deadly team. I think we have good guards enough to push it up and we have people who can finish and make threes. Yeah, I think once getting it in transition and we’re going we’re a super successful team.”
USC got out on top of Arizona State 18-7 after the first quarter, putting the Sun Devils in a double-digit deficit from the outset of the contest. The Trojans padded their lead in the second quarter by adding 21 more points and this game was on its way to becoming a blowout. But the Sun Devils had other things in mind, outscoring the Trojans in the third and fourth periods.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, the Trojans were backpedaling. Arizona State outscored USC 24-15 in the final period and threatened to overtake the Trojans in the waning minutes of the game. Good for the Trojans that Sun Devils ran out of time. And out of space. USC took charge of the inside game.
While Arizona State had more second-chance points (15-0) and outperformed USC in bench scoring (23-14), the Trojans made up the difference with their interior scoring. USC outscored Arizona State 36-22 in the paint, and
Sanders said after the game the team was not in a good place following their three-game losing skid at the end of the season. The UCLA loss was a dagger, but the Trojans were able to get on the same page for the victory against Arizona State, she said.
“I definitely think we were a little down after the UCLA game and this game definitely picked us up,” Sanders said. “I really think we needed a win, especially going into our next game. We’ve really got to move on, move past all the losses that we had, and really just get it back together. I don’t know, just start working hard again.”