In a wire-to-wire contest that included 16 ties, 14 lead changes and no double-digit leads, the USC women’s basketball team (13-6, 3-5 Pac-12), faced No.23 California. The Golden Bears (14-5, 5-3 Pac-12) were able to edge out a 62-59 victory at the Galen Center Sunday afternoon.
The Golden Bears had a Southern California split on their minds, after they dropped a 60-52 loss against No.13 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion Friday night.
That loss seemed to turn into fuel for California, as the Golden Bears outrebounded the Trojans 35-26 on a night where the USC only played six-players.
California forwards Penina Davidson and CJ West had 10 rebounds apiece for the Golden Bears, individually controlling the glass.
Kristine Anigwe scored 20 points in only 20 minutes of play for Cal, as she picked up her fifth foul at the 5:01 mark in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to go inside, I thought Kristen [Simon] did a job on her…Minyon (Moore) went down and stole the ball a couple times, but she’s obviously a great player,” said USC coach Mark Trakh.
“That was big for us to stay in the game, you know just getting her in foul trouble,” said Trakh.
Anigwe, a midseason candidate for the John R. Wooden National Player of the Year Award leads California in both scoring (17.8 points per game) and rebounding (9.1 rebounds per game), which ranks in the top of the Pac-12.
USC found themselves leading with 1:59 to play after Kristen Simon scored a lay-up under the basket, making the score 59-58.
However, on the next possession, California guard, Asha Thomas converted on the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:29 to play, after she was fouled by Minyon Moore.
Thomas was good on the free throw, giving the Golden Bears a two point lead, 61-59, as their defense was stifling down the stretch, forcing the Trojans to shoot 22.2 percent from the three-point line and 37.7 overall percent from the field.
Down the stretch, the USC went to their best shooter in Aliyah Mazyck, as she misfired on four three-point attempts in the final 1:16 of the game.
The Trojans were forced to intentionally foul CJ West, as she made 1 of 2 free throws for the Golden Bears with 18 seconds remaining and USC ultimately could not get a shot to fall with their final possession.
Although Mazyck was unable to convert from three-point range in the final minutes, she was still able to add 13 points, on a night where she played all 40 minutes.
USC coach Mark Trakh still took many positives from his team’s gritty performance, as they have now lost their last two home games in Stanford and California, by a combined margin of only 7 points.
The Trojans found themselves leading 37-35 at the half mark, but only converted a combined eight total of field-goals through the last 20 minutes of the game.
“I thought we executed well down the stretch,” added Trakh. “We got five open threes to try and tie the game, so we executed well.”
“I’m very happy with the effort of my team and very happy with Minyon (Moore’s) effort tonight and we’re on the road right now, we’re [3-5 in the conference] and we have to figure out a way to get back to .500.”
Point guard Moore scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds, while forward Kristen Simon added 21 points and five rebounds, as both players also played the entire game as well.
“I think our starting five is doing a really good job.” said Moore. “Even though we are fatigued, we’re playing through it because we take it game by game, it’s not all about ourselves and we just play for our team.”
The Trojans will now prepare for a road trip against the Washington schools, first playing the Washington State Cougars (9-11 overall, 2-6 Pac-12) in Pullman, Friday night at 7:00 p.m., before facing the Washington Huskies (7-12 overall, 1-7 Pac-12) on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.