The USC Trojans made national news in the college basketball world on Sunday. They got everyone’s attention. Dealing the Stanford Cardinal — 2021 national champion, 2022 Final Four semifinalist, reigning Pac-12 champion, and annual national colossus — their first Pac-12 loss in two years will open eyes and generate headlines.
USC was flying below the radar as a women’s basketball program.
The Trojans are now on the national map, and we’re naturally going to follow this journey, which just became a lot more dramatic and special.
So, how did USC beat Stanford by nine points? There are many reasons, but in this piece, we’ll focus on the three players who did the especially heavy lifting for the Women of Troy: Destiny Littleton, Okako Adika, and Taylor Bigby.
All seven USC players contributed to the win. Coach Lindsay Gottlieb went with a seven-player rotation, a conscious decision to win not with depth, but with her best warriors on the floor.
The three ultimate warriors were Littleton, Adika, and Bigby, who played 119 of a possible 120 minutes. Littleton and Adika played all 40 minutes, Bigby 39. No rest, no breaks. This is on a Sunday afternoon after playing a Friday night game against Cal. Three starters went wall to wall against a team which is leading the Pac-12, favored to make the Final Four, and has a great chance to play another USC team — the University of South Carolina — in April for the national championship.
Littleton, Adika, and Bigby contained Stanford’s offense, leading a remarkable effort which limited the Cardinal to 31-percent shooting from the field, 4 of 21 3-pointers, and only 10 free throw attempts all game.
Littleton, Adika, and Bigby combined to score 38 of USC’s 55 points, grab 17 of USC’s 36 rebounds, hand out 8 assists against just 3 turnovers, and commit a combined total of only 3 fouls.
They were tough, they were smart, and despite being asked to play the full game by Gottlieb, they never truly flinched or weakened.
Is USC a team of destiny? Destiny Littleton transferred to this USC (the Trojans) from the other USC (South Carolina). At South Carolina, Littleton faced Stanford in the Final Four and in the regular season. She knows the Cardinal well, and she relishes going up against them. Gottlieb trusted her with all 40 minutes and was rewarded.
Taylor Bigby transferred to USC from Oregon, where our friends at Ducks Wire chronicled her time in Eugene. Bigby also had a working knowledge of Stanford and a burning desire to beat the Cardinal.
Okako Adika transferred to USC from TCU. Before playing for the Horned Frogs, she played for Odessa College in the JUCO ranks and then for Butler University. She is an experienced, battle-tested player who certainly was ready for a 40-minute street fight against the Pac-12’s top team.
Get to know these USC Women of Troy. They just made a huge statement, and they have gained fresh respect and attention from the rest of the Pac-12 and the nation.