Women’s basketball looks for mid-season spark

first_img“I think we have to focus more on everyone finishing together at one time … no matter what’s going on,” Tapley said following the Trojans’ late defeat at Colorado last weekend. “[When] we play as a team, when we play together, when we’re all focused together, we win. We have to focus more on that instead of individual problems.” The Women of Troy will compete at Galen Center this weekend against Cal Friday at 8 p.m. before facing Stanford Sunday at 12 p.m. These are second opportunities for USC to face the two schools, both of which defeated USC on the road this past January. In their last meeting with Cal, the Trojans fell to the Bears 59-66 despite a career-high 36-point performance by senior guard Mariya Moore. Moore, who is coming off two straight games with over 20 points, will need to put together another stellar performance if the Trojans are seeking to succeed this weekend. Cal’s 14-9 record is identical to USC’s, and both teams have struggled against Pac-12 opponents. The Bears have conceded three straight games to top 10-ranked conference competitors. In contrast to Cal’s small average point differential, Stanford is defeating its opponents by an average of 14.3 points per game. In their meeting with the Cardinal last month, the Trojans held a 2-point halftime lead, but a poor third quarter performance left them unable to come back in the fourth. The Trojans must start strong again on Sunday to set themselves up for victory in the second half. While both Cal and USC have losing records in conference play, Stanford boasts a 9-3 record against Pac-12 opponents. The Cardinal have the third-highest scoring offense in the Pac-12 with 77.6 points per game, compared to an average of 69.1 points for the Trojan offense. Senior forward Alanna Smith is at the forefront of Stanford’s attack, shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from behind the arc. “We just take it a game at a time to be honest,” Tapley said. “We try to work together. We know that we have to come in and play as hard as we can every game, especially these next couple of games.”center_img A candidate for this year’s WNBA draft, Cal’s senior center/forward Kristine Anigwe poses a challenge for the Trojans on both ends of the court. Most notably, Anigwe leads the NCAA with 15.8 rebounds per game. She also ranks seventh in NCAA in scoring, with 22.8 average points per game. USC’s post players, including juniors Kayla Overbeck and Ja’Tavia Tapley, must focus their efforts on blocking out Anigwe to prevent her from securing second-chance scoring opportunities for her team. After defeating Utah on the road but falling short in a close contest at Colorado, the Women of Troy will return home to face Cal and No. 10 Stanford this weekend. Although Cal averages 72.2 points per game, its average margin of victory is just 3.5 points. If Friday’s game adheres to this trend and becomes a close contest, it is crucial for the Trojans to focus for all 40 minutes of play. USC’s three recent conference wins against Washington, Washington State and Utah have boosted their confidence heading into this weekend’s matchups. The team is beginning to showcase its talent and togetherness, qualities that allow it to challenge any competitor. Senior guard Aliyah Mazyck moves through defenders in a win over Washington State at Galen Center Feb. 3. (Fanfu Shentu/Daily Trojan)last_img

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