After having significant time off since their last matchups on Dec. 18 and 20, respectively, USC and Colorado took the court Friday night for both teams’ first Pac-12 matchup of the season.
USC kept it close in the first half, but led by junior point guard Jaylyn Sherrod’s 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds, Colorado took control and came out victorious 71-58.
Both teams have dealt with schedule changes due to COVID-19 issues, and that time off seemed to have affected the Trojans more than the Buffaloes. After the game, head coach Lindsay Gottlieb discussed the effort to get back on the court.
“We were off for a long time and a lot of people were sick, so I thought we fought hard to get back where we needed to play a game and I thought we battled tonight,” Gottlieb said. “I didn’t think we were good enough to win a Pac-12 game, but I thought there was some good effort given our circumstances.”
The Trojans are now 0-1 in conference play and 7-4 on the season.
The struggle began early in the first half with the Trojans getting into foul trouble. USC committed 10 fouls in the first half, and the Buffs capitalized by going 8-of-10 from the line. Junior forward Alissa Pili helped get the momentum going offensively — but not until the Trojans already trailed by 10.
USC shot 44% in the first half compared to Colorado’s 32% effort, but the chances at the line helped the Buffs gain a 34-29 lead at halftime.
By the second half, foul trouble wasn’t the only concern for USC. The Trojans also struggled with ball protection, committing 20 turnovers in the game.
“When we had chances to score, I thought it got away from us there, especially in the second half with the turnover issue,” Gottlieb said. “Colorado does a great job at pressuring, but a lot of it was just because we were rattled and got sloppy and turned it over.”
The Buffaloes’ three-point shooting extended their lead at the beginning of the third quarter. Sophomore guard Frida Formann would do most of the scoring in the quarter, putting up 10 points including two threes. The Trojans got some help from the Buffs at the foul line and came within eight at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw a greater defensive presence from the Trojans with seven defensive boards, but they weren’t able to capitalize on the second chance opportunities, and the Buffs controlled the remainder of the match.
The Trojans also lost their leading scorer in the first half when graduate forward Jordan Sanders went down with an apparent knee injury. Gottlieb said she will be evaluated when the team arrives back on campus Saturday.
USC will next face Arizona in a rescheduled contest Sunday at 3 p.m. at Galen Center.