It was freshman fever as Wednesday’s home opener was all about Trojans showing out in their first game.
Freshman guard/forward Amaya Oliver had 17 points and 16 rebounds and redshirt freshman guard Madison Campbell scored 19 points to lead the Trojans to an 85-55 victory over Loyola Marymount Wednesday.
Oliver drove the victory from the start, accounting for a near double-double by halftime with nine points and 10 rebounds. Campbell, meanwhile, was a long-range sniper and finished the game with five 3-pointers.
Oliver, who pulled down six offensive boards, mentioned after the game that the team practiced offensive rebounding and she always viewed herself as a rebounder.
Campbell’s stellar debut came a year after she would have liked — she missed the 2019-2020 season due to back surgery.
“It was tragic, so you grind and push to heal fast and get extra work and workouts in. I’m thankful for family, coaches and teammates,” said Campbell on how she overcame the injury.
The Trojans’ 85 points would have marked their highest output of the entire previous season. It was a dominant wire-to-wire effort for USC, which led 41-28 at the half.
Sophomore guard/forward Ciera Ellington and redshirt senior forward/center Meghan Mandel led the Lions with 13 points apiece. Loyola Marymount only played two bench players, neither of whom scored a point. The Trojans also played two bench players but received a combined 19 points from sophomores center Angel Jackson and guard India Otto. Jackson was also a defensive menace, racking up four steals and a block.
The Trojans struggled slightly to keep pulling away in the third quarter, which they concluded with a 62-46 lead. Sophomore guard Endyia Rogers hit back-to-back 3-pointers at the beginning of the fourth to put USC up by 18. The stretch built momentum for the Trojans to turn an easy win into a blowout with a 23-9 advantage in the final frame.
USC head coach Mark Trakh said the team had a good opening game with only seven players, but still needed to work on getting back on defense.
However, Trakh was impressed with the team’s offense, specifically its ball movement.
“I was proud of the kids considering we were so shorthanded,” he said. “Hats off to these kids for the great job they did and how they shared the ball offensively.”
This season opener comes during a strange time for sports in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the game saw a new wrinkle as Loyola Marymount sophomore forward/center Khari Clark took the court while wearing a mask. It was a clear reminder that things are not yet normal, but the Trojans seem happy with the win.
USC next plays Arizona State on Dec. 4.