USC sophomore guard Rayah Marshall hit a career-high of 21 rebounds and grad student forward Kadi Sissoko scored a season-high 23 points to defeat the Arizona State Sun Devils 64-49.
Despite securing the win, the Women of Troy were not satisfied with their performance during the match-up.
“We have a really good defense but today, we never really showed up defensively and offensively, it was just our energy,” Sissoko said. “We got away with it because we were good enough but with other teams, no disrespect to Arizona State, it’s gonna be harder for us.”
Their aim was to get all the players involved and USC moved the ball frequently during their possessions. This resulted in 15 assists, nine more than Arizona State.
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“Basketball is all about making the better pass to find a better shot and for the most part, we’re trying to do that tonight,” said grad student guard Destiny Littleton. “We can be a lot better in certain aspects it was just selfish basketball, but we have to grow and learn from how we played today.”
The Women of Troy post players made big contributions in the first half. Sissoko scored 13 points, two points below her average, in the first half. Marshall had eight rebounds. USC went into halftime ahead 27-22. The Sun Devils had five second chance points and both teams had 10 points in the paint each.
“I thought we settled and let them get a little comfortable early, I thought they scored too many points in our paint,” said USC head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “We ended up locking up when we needed to at certain times.”
The Women of Troy found an eight-point run to start the second half, giving USC a 13-point lead. Arizona State rallied late in the third phase by scoring points in the paint. Littleton sank a three-pointer from only inches away from the logo to keep their advantage in the double-digits.
Keeping competitive momentum high is crucial during February. The effort put in this month will affect their run in March Madness. Littleton noted how USC aims to not get lackadaisical during this time.
“February is really important, it makes or breaks teams,” Littleton said. “Teams who have chips on their shoulder, they come out the gates really tough and teams who’ve been winning, they lax a little bit.”
Littleton knows about reaching the Final Four from her stint with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Gottlieb led the California Golden Bears to the Final Four in 2013.
“We want a team that’s still enjoying each other, that’s still enjoying the process, that can be coached hard, that understands what we’re capable of,” Gottlieb said. “With all the new players we have and all the new pieces, we can’t stop getting better. That’s our superpower.”
The Women of Troy will host the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday, February 5 at noon.