Close games are nothing new when USC plays Utah. In their last five head-to-head meetings, the largest margin of victory was six points. The two teams delivered another nail-biter Friday evening at the Galen Center.
After USC took a five-point lead with three minutes to go, its largest lead of the game, Utah responded with two quick buckets to cut the lead to one. From there, neither team scored during the final two minutes, and a missed 3-pointer by Utah sophomore guard Brynna Maxwell in the final seconds solidified USC’s 60-59 victory.
The Women of Troy were led once again by sophomore guard Endyia Rogers, who scored 12 of her 17 points in the second half. Rogers also had six rebounds and two assists even though she sat on the bench for much of the second quarter after picking up her third foul with seven minutes remaining in the half.
“Don’t foul, be aggressive and play my game without fouling,” Rogers said of her mindset going into the second half.
Rogers was not the only player in foul trouble in the first half. Sophomore center Angel Jackson — who scored 12 points and had six rebounds to go along with four blocks — picked up her second foul of the first half with over four minutes remaining in the second quarter and had to take a seat for the remainder of the half.
Despite the foul trouble, head coach Mark Trakh was happy with the way Jackson played on both ends of the floor.
“She did a great job off the boards. She got a couple nice blocks,” he said. “I loved the way [Jackson] played and I love the way she worked tonight.”
Along with Rogers and Jackson, six players from both teams picked up at least two fouls in the first half, all part of the 24 total fouls called in the half.
With Rogers and Jackson on the bench, the Trojans relied on graduate transfer forward Jordan Sanders, who had six points, and junior guard Desiree Caldwell, who added five points. A solid defensive effort also helped the Trojans enter halftime down just one.
The Trojan defense played well in the second half, allowing only 22 points and holding the Utes to 25% shooting. After exploding for 11 points in the first quarter, Maxwell finished with 20 total.
For the Utes, junior guard Dru Gylten was the only other player to score in double-figures with 15 points.
“It was the best defense we played, against a really, really good team,” Trakh said. “They had a lot of kids that could shoot from 3-point range, and I thought we did a nice job.”
One addition for the Trojans in this game was freshman forward Jordyn Jenkins. Playing in her first collegiate game, she put up four points and four rebounds off the bench. She had been sidelined with a knee injury prior to Friday’s game.
Trakh was enthusiastic about her return postgame.
“We got [her] back which I am really excited about. I think she will get better and better as she gets more comfortable,” he said.
USC is next scheduled to host Colorado on Sunday with tip-off at noon PT.