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Women’s basketball looks to improve conference record in Arizona

first_imgFreshman guard Desiree Caldwell looks for the basket against Fresno State Nov. 28 at the Galen Center. (Josh Dunst/Daily Trojan) “Our kids practice hard,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “That’s why you win games. Kids talk, and you get after it and you just have to keep competing so hopefully we can keep it going.” The Wildcats and the Sun Devils are currently No. 7 and No. 5 in the Pac-12 standings, respectively. Even though the teams have not been playing at the level they were hoping to coming into this season, they are both eight games above .500. The Trojans have a quick turnaround this week as they prepare to play the Arizona Wildcats and the No. 16 Arizona State Sun Devils over a three-day span. After already losing to the Bruins earlier this season, the Trojans came into Saturday’s game with a chip on their shoulder. With great performances all around, the Trojans managed to pull off their first conference win in a 72-67 victory to extend their overall record to 11-6. Coming into the season, the USC women’s basketball team was projected as one of the top teams in the Pac-12, after they finished 20-11 overall and 9-9 in conference play last year. The Women of Troy started off the season living up to expectations by winning ten out of their first eleven games, only to lose five straight matchups to start conference play. In what seemed to be a lost season, the Trojans are looking to turn things around after beating crosstown rival UCLA. “If we play like this the rest of the way, we’ll be very competitive,” Trakh said following the UCLA game. Mazyck had her breakout game last week against the Bruins, scoring 26 points and shooting 100 percent from the free throw line in all 40 minutes of play. In her senior year, the Trojans hope that Mazyck can repeat her success from previous seasons to lead the team to their first NCAA tournament appearance since the 2013-2014 season.center_img “This was my last USC-UCLA game,” Mazyck said. “Our pride was on the line. It’s hard to be positive when you’ve been losing, but we stayed positive and got positive results.” The Wildcats will look to even their conference record when they host USC, while the Sun Devils aim to extend their recent success after upsetting No. 9 Oregon State in a double-time thriller on Jan. 20. If the Trojans hope to beat both these teams, they will have to rely on senior guard Aliyah Mazyck and junior guard Minyon Moore to repeat their successes from Saturday. Against the Wildcats, the Trojans will have to pay attention to redshirt sophomore guard Aari McDonald, Arizona’s star player. In 18 games this season, McDonald has had a total of 449 points, 113 rebounds, and 45 steals. She is a force to reckoned with on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. As for the Sun Devils, they bring in key freshman guard Iris Mbulito. Also playing 18 games this season, Mbulito leads all Arizona State players in points, free throw percentage, and steals, with 265, .838, and 25, respectively. Moore was on fire in her last five games,, averaging 39.4 minutes played, 14 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Against the Bruins, Moore had one of her best games, playing all 40 minutes and finishing with a double-double. The Women of Troy hope to win two more conference games this weekend when they travel to Arizona to take on the Wildcats this Friday at 6 p.m. and the Sun Devils this Sunday at 12 p.m.last_img read more