USC defense remains dominant as Pac-12 regular season ends
The USC women’s basketball team gained a defensive groove this season and never really left it, save for an occasional aberration which could easily be chalked up to fatigue or an elite opponent.
USC’s 68-65 double-overtime win over Washington State on Saturday was a game in which the Trojans allowed just 53 points in regulation. That marked the 11th time in the Trojans’ last 14 games that they held a Pac-12 opponent to 54 points or fewer in regulation time.
It began on a Friday the 13th — January 13 against Cal. Since that 63-43 win, USC has continued to stack great defensive performances on top of each other. The only three exceptions: Utah on Jan. 27, Arizona on Feb. 5, and Cal on Feb. 19.
Utah could be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Utes are co-Pac-12 champions with Stanford.
Arizona will be a No. 5 or 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and even then, USC allowed only 58 points in regulation to the Wildcats, still a good defensive performance.
The Cal game was one which got away, but even then, there’s an explanation: The Trojans emptied the tank two nights earlier against Stanford and had little left for the Golden Bears.
USC’s defense has been as close to perfect as any team or coaching staff could possibly imagine.
How great was USC’s defense on Saturday against Washington State? The Cougars made 25 shots in 50 minutes of basketball. That’s good to begin with. This is even better: USC forced 23 Washington State turnovers.
USC has played a number of games this season in which an opponent’s number of made baskets is similar to its number of turnovers committed.
Also, USC continues to defend without fouling. Washington State earned just 11 free throws in 50 minutes of game play on Saturday. Because this defense simply makes very few mistakes, USC can shoot poorly and still win.
Here’s the proof to back up that last claim: USC has shot under 30 percent in each of these two recent games in the Galen Center against Washington and Washington State. The Trojans went 2-0.
Lindsay Gottlieb and Beth Burns have created one of the best defenses in the nation. As we wrote earlier this week, if USC can simply shoot 40 percent, this team can make a very deep run in March.
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