The final buzzer horned as three senior USC women’s basketball players walked off the court inside Galen Center Saturday afternoon for their final time, as a pivotal game against the Colorado Buffaloes stood in their way of clinching a spot in the PAC-12 Tournament in Seattle, Washington.
Forward Kristen Simon and guards Jordan Adams and Sadie Edwards were each honored with a framed picture of their jersey as they gathered with their teammates and families to share the lasting moments.
The togetherness was seen from the jump as the Trojans (19-9, 9-9 Pac-12) battled early on and even trailed at the halftime, but ultimately caught fire in the third quarter defeating the Buffaloes (14-15, 5-13 Pac-12) 65-53.
“The great thing about our team is that we got some quality wins,” said USC coach Mark Trakh. “We haven’t lost to anybody we’re supposed to lose to and we pushed everybody … Every game has been a game they never quit, they have never quit, they’ve been resilient, they fought every single game so I am proud of this group as anybody I have ever coached… and we’re not done.”
Junior guard Aliyah Mazyck led the Trojans with 24 points, making five three-pointers and was just one rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards.
Simon recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds while sophomore guard Minyon Moore added 15 points and two assists battling through injury and all.
“Kristen Simon has come such a long way,” added Trakh. “The thing I like about her this year is that she grew into her leadership position, she’s been a real leader this year.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Trojans found themselves trailing 17-11 through ten minutes of play as Aliyah Mazyck scored all 11 of USC’s first-quarter points, as Moore had to exit the game after she suffered a cut over her eye.
Moore returned a couple minutes into the second quarter, as she gave the Trojans life right away, connecting with Jordan Adams for a three-point basket that gave USC a 23-20 lead with 3:34 to play in the quarter.
“It helped to have [Moore] back on the floor but we talked in the locker room,” Adams said. “This is our season, this is what we want, we want the tournament then we gotta win this game so I think that really lit a fire under us and we just came out and gave it everything we had.”
Southern California came out rejuvenated in the second half, as the Trojans went on a quick 14-3 run that stretched Colorado’s deficit to nine, 39-30 at the 6:05 mark.
Moore and Mazyck both connected on three-pointers during that stretch, as the Trojans shot 40 percent from the field and made 11 of 12 shots from the free throw line in the game.
The Buffaloes wouldn’t go away easy as they forced USC into 12 turnovers and even outshot them from three-point range with nine total makes.
The fourth quarter was similar to the third as the Trojans jumped out to a 15-point lead at 58-43, thanks to another Mazyck three-pointer.
Colorado responded with a 7-2 run to pull with 7 points, 60-53 with 1:03 remaining of the game, but that was close as the Buffaloes would get as USC got their 19th win of the season with a 65-53 victory.
USC ultimately dominated the glass all game, outrebounding Colorado 40 to 24 as well as outscoring the Buffaloes in the paint 28 to 16.
“Heart, we’ve got a big heart,” said Trakh. “Rebounding is all heart, defense is all heart and they’re showing a lot of that out there.”
In the win, the Trojans earned the No. 7 seed for the Pac-12 Tournament, where they will match up against Washington State at 6 p.m. on March 1 at KeyArena in Seattle.