The USC women’s basketball team caught a break … but good teams take advantage of breaks when they come. What were the Trojans supposed to do? Not cash in an unexpected plot twist? They needed to pounce, and they did.
USC defeated Washington State on Friday night in Pullman. The Trojans won, 51-44, on a night when Washington State star Charlisse Leger-Walker was out of the lineup and en route to her native New Zealand to tend to a personal matter. That piece of late-breaking news left Washington State shorthanded, increasing the need for USC to grab a win. A loss would have looked even worse for the NCAA selection committee, which is now paying closer attention to the Trojans following their headline-generating win over Stanford.
A win keeps USC on course for the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans get a road win in the conference against another team on the bubble. They did not stumble after becoming more of a target in the Pac-12.
Kadi Sissoko, who did not play in the upset win over Stanford, came back to the Trojans’ lineup on Friday and led all scorers with 19 points, 15 in the first half. Sissoko made six of USC’s 10 first-half field goals. Sissoko’s USC teammates scored 21 of the Trojans’ 25 points in the second half. That’s not a lot of points, but with USC holding Washington State to 44 points, it was enough.
USC turned in another defensive clinic. After holding Stanford to 46 on Sunday, the Women of Troy held WSU to an even smaller point total. Washington State committed 18 turnovers, grabbed only five offensive rebounds, made only five 3-pointers (out of 16), and made only three free throws. USC continued to excel at not giving up easy baskets or foul shots. WSU needed to beat the Trojans from the perimeter, and the Cougars couldn’t get the job done.
USC moves to 14-4 on the season, 4-3 in the Pac-12. The Trojans next play Washington on Sunday afternoon in Seattle.