What a difference a day can make.
On Wednesday, USC came out in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament and scored 39 points on 70% shooting in the first half on its way to a win over Arizona State.
But Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup in Las Vegas against No. 1-seeded Stanford couldn’t have started more differently. USC began the game 2-of-26 from the field, allowing Stanford to go on an incredible 31-5 run that lasted almost the first 13 minutes of the game.
That was more than enough for Stanford, which coasted to an easy 92-53 win that brought USC’s season to an end.
While it was not the way the Trojans wanted their season to conclude, sophomore forward Alissa Pili was pleased with what this team has accomplished.
“It was disappointing that we lost, but I couldn’t be more proud of my team and the fact that we just stayed together through all the [adversity] that we have [dealt with],” she said. “It is sad to end the season on a loss like this, but we’re happy that we’ve gotten this far.”
The offense improved slightly for the Trojans after the dreadful start, as they shot 29% for the game. However, they were never able to find their shooting touch from deep with a 2-of-22 mark from 3-point range.
After a bounceback performance against Arizona State where she scored 15 points on a 75% clip, sophomore guard Endyia Rogers fell right back into a slump. She scored just six points on 2-of-13 shooting. After having 11 assists a day earlier, Rogers posted only one against Stanford.
Graduate transfer Jordan Sanders, USC’s second-leading scorer on the season, didn’t get her first points until under nine minutes were left in the fourth quarter.
No Trojan scored in double figures.
Despite the poor offensive performance, head coach Mark Trakh felt his team gave a solid effort on Thursday.
“Even though we were missing a lot of our shots, we stayed focused and we had energy and we fought,” he said. “I think that [we] really showed a growth in our team today.”
On the defensive end, the Trojans had a tough time containing the Cardinal from downtown as they knocked down 15 3-pointers — tying a tournament record.
Stanford shared the ball as well, with eight players scoring at least seven points. Sophomore forward Ashten Prechtel led the way with 15.
Trakh had high praise for Stanford postgame.
“That looks like a team that could vie for the national championship,” Trakh said. “They’re deep, they’re long, they can shoot. They’ve got everything on that team.”
Although this may not be a performance the Trojans want to remember, there were a few moments that stuck out to Trakh as highlights of the season.
“The two Arizona State [wins] and the two Washington State [wins] I thought we played really well,” he said. “I love the way our kids executed in those four games against quality opponents.”
The Trojans will look to build momentum off those impressive performances as they head into next season. There is a lot of excitement among the team for the future of USC women’s basketball.
“I think our future is [bright],” Trakh said. “We’ve got this team coming back and a good recruiting class coming in so I’m really looking forward to what this program can do in the next three years.”